Bad breath (also known as halitosis) is an issue that can occur at any age and can be improved. Even kiddos who still get visits from the Tooth Fairy can practically knock you out with a whiff of their bad breath. And the odors get worse as they get older–just ask any parent of a teenager!
What causes halitosis in children? And how do you fix bad breath in children? Smiles In Motion Pediatric Dentistry is here to help kids of all ages achieve healthy smiles (and smells) as they grow up.
“My child has bad breath all the time”
It’s a phrase uttered by frustrated and concerned parents everywhere. If your child has bad breath all the time, it could be due to one of many reasons.
Visiting a Smiles In Motion board-certified pediatric dentist can help pinpoint the cause of your child’s bad breath, especially if it is related to poor oral hygiene, gum disease, or other dental concerns.
You might be surprised to learn what causes halitosis in children–the list is quite extensive. Here are some of the most common reasons why children get bad breath.
Eating stinky food
Let’s get the most obvious reason out of the way first. If your child regularly eats food with strong odors–such as garlic, onions, or smelly cheeses–these odors tend to linger, sometimes for hours afterward. Eating pungent foods less often can be an easy way to resolve their halitosis issues.
Too much junk food
There is a proven link between bad breath and higher consumption of junk food like candy and potato chips, which can become trapped between your child’s teeth. Parents have so many good reasons to limit junk food and encourage healthy eating–now you can add better-smelling breath to the list!
Poor oral hygiene
Poor oral hygiene is the most frequent reason why children have bad breath. If kids don’t brush or floss their teeth or tongue often enough–or effectively enough–food particles and plaque remain in their mouth, creating smelly bacteria that can affect their breath. This same bacteria also attaches to skin cells on the tongue if they do not brush their tongue properly.
Fresh breath is one of the countless reasons why oral hygiene instructions for a child are so important. In addition to brushing and flossing, using a tongue scraper may be recommended by your Smiles In Motion pediatric dentist.
Yes, even kids get morning breath. The culprit is once again–you guessed it–bacteria. Everyone has odor-causing bacteria in their mouth, regardless of their age or how many teeth they have. Our saliva production slows down as we sleep, so fewer bacteria get washed away.
Gum disease and other dental concerns
If plaque builds up between your child’s teeth or under their gum line, their gums may become infected, leading to halitosis. The same is true for cavities, loose fillings, abscessed teeth, or any other type of infection in your child’s mouth.
Scheduling regular visits at Smiles In Motion Pediatric Dentistry starting at age one can help keep your child’s teeth, gums, and breath in the best possible shape.
Dry mouth causes bad breath in kids the same way that morning breath does. Because their mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, food particles and bacteria don’t get washed away. The result: stinky breath.
Kids typically breathe through their mouths when they have a stuffy nose. This type of halitosis is temporary and should go away when their congestion clears up. If your child has chronic sinus problems or regularly breathes or sleeps with their mouth open, their bad breath may continue.
Sinus infections can cause bad breath in people of all ages. When mucus drips down the back of your child’s throat and sits on their tongue, bacteria go on a feeding frenzy, releasing foul-smelling odors.
If your child has large tonsils or tonsils with deep pits, everything from oral and nasal secretions to food particles can get trapped. Tonsil stones can also develop in the pits, which produce an unpleasant smell as they decompose.
Other health conditions
Don’t worry, bad breath doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong with your child. But once your board-certified Smiles In Motion pediatric dentist has ruled out other causes of halitosis, you may want to visit your pediatrician to be sure.
How to fix bad breath in children
Aside from regular dentist visits, there are many other things you can do to help keep your child’s breath smelling fresh. Some oral hygiene instructions for children include:
- Make sure your child brushes and flosses their teeth and tongue at least twice a day (once after breakfast and once before bedtime).
- Brush for at least two minutes each time. You can use a fun video, song, or app to make sure your child brushes long enough. Young children will likely need your help!
- Don’t forget your child’s tongue, especially if it looks white instead of pink. Brushing their tongue twice a day and/or in between meals can help prevent bad breath.
- Drink plenty of water each day to ward off dry mouth.
- Kick-start your child’s saliva production each day by eating breakfast and drinking fluids (preferably water or milk instead of sugary juices).
- Feed your child raw fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber, such as apples and carrots. Not only are these foods healthy, but they help scrape away odorous bacteria as your child eats them.
- Replace your child’s toothbrush every 2-3 months to keep it clean.
(X)ylitol marks the spot
What kid doesn’t like chewing gum? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the suggested age for chewing gum is four years old and up. It might be hard to imagine a pediatric dentist recommending any type of gum, but xylitol gum is the exception.
Xylitol is a natural sugar that does not feed harmful bacteria like other sugars–and fewer bacteria means a fresher-smelling mouth. Studies have shown that xylitol can also reduce tooth decay and even help reverse the decay by replacing the minerals in tooth enamel.
Schedule an appointment at Smiles In Motion Pediatric Dentistry today
We understand that some parents may feel uncomfortable telling their child they have bad breath, but halitosis is a component of oral health just like any other. You can count on our friendly and experienced team to treat your child with care and compassion, especially if the smell of their breath is a sensitive topic.
By discovering the source of their halitosis and sharing oral hygiene instructions for children, the Smiles In Motion team can give your child their best chance for a fantastic smile–and fresh breath to match. Contact us today!