Bad breath, medically known as halitosis, is a condition that even healthy children can suffer from. If you’ve noticed that your child’s is not so pleasant, there is hope, and likely an answer. When it comes to bad breath in children, most of the time improper oral hygiene is the culprit.
What Causes Bad Breath?
There are many factors that could contribute to bad breath. Here are some of the most common causes in children:
Poor oral hygiene. If your child doesn’t brush and floss their teeth regularly, bad breath can result. If plaque is not brushed or flossed away, it can irritate the gums, causing additional issues. The tongue can also hold bacteria that produce foul odors and bad breath, so be sure your child is brushing his tongue as well.
Dry mouth. Saliva helps to cleanse and hydrate the mouth. When your child’s mouth is producing less saliva than normal, dry mouth or xerostomia may occur, which can contribute to bad breath.
Mouth breathing. When a child breathes through his mouth (due to a stuffy nose, large tonsils, or as a sleep habit), it prevents saliva from washing away bacteria, which promotes dry mouth and again, bad breath.
Bacteria on the Tongue. Most odor causing bacteria reside on the tongue. If you don’t brush your tongue as part of your daily oral hygiene routine, odor causing bacteria will accumulate and cause bad breath.
Infections in the mouth. Bad breath can also come about as a result of cavities, gum disease, plaque buildup, mouth sores, or oral surgery.
A foreign object. Sometimes a baby or toddler will place a foreign object (tiny toys, food particles, etc.) in his or her nose. A foreign object lodged in the nose can cause bad breath in children.
Certain foods. If your child consumes foods that have a strong odor, like garlic, onions or specific spices, it can impact the freshness of his breath.
Medications. Sometimes, the way medication breaks down in the body can lead to bad breath. This process releases chemicals that may result in bad breath.
An illness or condition. If your child is suffering from allergies, a sinus infection, tonsillitis or another condition, bad breath can occur.
Vitamin deficiency or dietary imbalance. Eating an imbalanced diet can leave your mouth smelling bad in more than one way. Nutrient-poor meals, especially in Vitamin B12, may lead to halitosis simply by giving your body too few vitamins to work with and can lead to an overall deficiency within the body.
How to Avoid Bad Breath
Healthy teeth are integral to a child’s overall health and well-being. You can help your child avoid bad breath by developing an oral care routine.
Have your child brush twice a day with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste to promote fresh breath. Always remember to supervise young children so they do not swallow the toothpaste. Use a smear for children unable to spit properly and then a pea-sized mouth for older children.
When your child brushes his teeth, make sure he also cleans his tongue, as bacteria can collect and grow on the tongue.
Floss daily in order to remove odor causing food particles from the teeth.
Remember to get a new toothbrush every few months, because dull bristles cannot effectively remove plaque and debris from the teeth.
Avoid halitosis and other oral health concerns by scheduling regular checkups and professional cleanings with a dentist.
Chronic Bad Breath in Children
Most of the time, your child’s bad breath will go away once you implement better oral hygiene. However, some children may experience chronic bad breath. If a dentist determines that your child’s mouth is healthy, you may be referred to a primary care physician for additional tests to diagnose the underlying cause of the halitosis.
Regardless of the cause of bad breath, teaching children how to form good dental care habits at an early age can be vital in terms of their oral health as adults.
Dr. Staci Whitman and Dr. Michelle Stafford worked for nearly two years to bring World Of Smiles to North Portland. They seek to partner with families to provide education and motivation for healthy dental habits. The practice strives for excellent patient care with a holistic, integrative approach while offering innovative treatment options. Both Docs enjoy teaching families and other healthcare professionals the importance of prevention and laying a foundation of healthy dental practices from a young age. They advocate for infant and child oral health, have had extensive experience with patients of special needs, and are Board Certified Pediatric Dentists. Learn more about who your family will partner with at your next visit!