10 Causes and their Remedies for Bad Breath (Halitosis) in Children!
Bad breath (Halitosis) in kids is one of the major issues the parents are concerned about. You wake your kiddo in the morning, snuggle tight, and what you can feel is bad breath from the child’s mouth.
You are not the only parent dealing with it. We have been getting a lot of questions regarding the same.
Why does my child’s mouth smell like this?
I brush my child’s teeth twice everyday and still my child has a stinky mouth?
I get such a foul smell from mouth of my baby in the mornings?
So, there must be a reason for the halitosis?
Causes of Bad Breath and how to cure it
1. Poor Oral Hygiene
Maintaining a good oral hygiene is the key to most of the oral problems including bad breath. There is a myth that there is no need to brush a child’s teeth till all the milk teeth erupt or till the child turns two years of age.
But this is not right. Brushing of kids teeth should start as soon as the first tooth erupts in the baby’s mouth. Cleaning of the child’s tongue and gums should start immediately after birth. The milk that the child drinks or the food that the child eats form a layer over the surface of gums, teeth and tongue. This layer needs to be removed as this is the main cause of halitosis.
Brush your child’s teeth twice a day using a grain size of kids age appropriate toothpaste till the age of 3 years and a pea size after the age of 3 years.
Clean your child’s gums and tongue two to three times a day using a silicone finger brush or a clean moist cotton cloth wrapped around your finger.
Diet plays a major role in halitosis. Eating pungent smelling food can cause the mouth to smell. Foods like onion, garlic, cheese are few of the foods that causes the bad breath. Foods like these start to breakdown in the mouth but remain in the blood stream for several hours and when the child exhales, the smell comes through the mouth. Brushing also does not help in this case and the smell will only go when the food is completely digested.
To avoid the bad breath caused due to food, you need to avoid it completely. If the child likes these food, you can give it for dinner rather than lunch or breakfast.
3. Coating on the Tongue Surface
The coating on the surface of the tongue can be the cause of bad breath. The coating contains food which accumulates the bacteria causing halitosis. The posterior one third of the tongue is where the bacteria exists.
Cleaning of the baby’s tongue every day is very important. You can either use a tongue cleaner or the toothbrush itself. In the early months of life you can use a clean moist cotton cloth wrapped around your finger and clean the baby’s tongue.
Cavities are another reason for halitosis. The cavity can accumulate the food, which is difficult to clean as it gets stuck in the damaged part of the tooth. The formation of abscess due to cavities is again an important reason for the stinky breath from your child’s mouth.
A cavity once present can not be treated at home. You will have to visit a dentist and get it checked and treated. It is a myth that the cavities in the milk teeth need not be treated, as the teeth will shed any way. Any cavity in the child’s mouth needs to be treated. You can visit your dentist or a pedodontist (Pediatric or kids dentist), to get the cavities filled.
5. Gum Disease
Not very common in children though, but gum disease in a contributing factor to bad breath. The deposits (plaque) on the surface of the tooth can cause the gums to inflame and lead to gingivitis even in kids. This gingivitis is an infection and will cause bad breath.
Brushing twice daily is the key. It removes all the plaque which is the culprit. If the plaque hardens and forms calculus (Tarter) which is difficult to remove at home. This tarter causes the inflammation in the gums and can only be removed in a dental office by your dentist. So, incase your child is having gingivitis, visit your dentist and get a complete scaling done.
6. Dry Mouth
Saliva is very important in washing off food and bacteria from the mouth. Reduced saliva is seen during sleep, and this contributes to the bad breath in the morning. The food and bacteria stays in the mouth for the long hours thus causing bad breath.
Giving plenty of water to your child is the key. Prevent dehydration as that is another reason for the reduced salivation. If the child is having any systemic problem and dry mouth is due to that, visit your child’s doctor.
7. Mouth Breathing
Mouth breathing is another important factor leading to halitosis. During mouth breathing the mouth is open throughout especially during sleeping and causes dryness in the mouth. This dryness (reduced saliva) prevents the washing off of the food and bacteria and therefore there is a halitosis or bad breath.
Mouth breathing can be temporary when the child has a blocked nose due to cold or the flu, or permanent. When the mouth breathing is permanent, there might be some underlying reason like enlarged adenoids, sinus infection etc. If your child is having chronic halitosis due to mouth breathing, it is important to visit a pediatrician and rule out the underlying problem.
8. Ear, Throat or Sinus Disease
Ear, throat and sinus infections are again the cause for halitosis in kids. A post nasal drip, stuffy nose, soar throat all can cause bad breath due to the bacteria.
Proper medication as prescribed by the physician is all that is required. If the sinus infection is chronic as in case of allergies, again visit your child’s pediatrician for proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
9. Some Medical Condition
Certain health related conditions like, gastroesophageal reflux disease, thrush, diabetes, liver of kidney diseases are also the reason for halitosis.
Proper treatment to the disease is the key. If all the other factors are ruled out, then the underlying disease might be the cause of halitosis.
10. Something Stuck in the Nose
YES, this can be one of the reasons of bad breath. Kids, especially toddlers experiment by putting food, beads, toys in the nose. This can cause inflammation, runny nose and a bad smell. If you have ruled out everything else, check the nose.
Make sure your child doesn’t stick anything up in the nose. But still if he or she has done that, take medical help immediately without any delay.
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Read: Bad Breath (Halitosis)
This blog provides general information and discussion about dentistry and other health related topics. The opinions and content expressed on this blog are for general conversational purposes only and should not be interpreted as dental or medical advice pertaining to any particular individual. If the reader or any other person has a dental or medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed dentist, physician or other health care provider.