Does your child’s breath ever knock you to your knees? Bad breath (halitosis) in children is nothing to take lightly or bush off. It could be a sign of something as simple as poor oral hygiene or it may be a sign of something more serious. As a parent you want to make sure you are helping your children with their oral hygiene to make sure plaque, a sticky bacterial biofilm, is not building up on tooth surfaces or between the teeth. This sticky plaque can lead to gum disease and or tooth decay which can cause a foul odor. It’s important to help our children until they are about 8 years old or longer if need be. Children should be brushing 2-3 times a day with an electric toothbrush or soft bristle brush, as well as flossing to remove any additional plaque or food debris that gets caught between their teeth, age appropriate mouthrinse is also recommended daily. Additional concerns for bad breath are; Post-Nasal Drip, Mouth Breathing, Medications- causing Thrush, Nasal Obstruction and some Medical Conditions.
Post- Nasal Drip: This is when excess mucus is produced and drips into the back of the throat.
Mouth Breathing: This is when you breathe through your mouth instead of through your nose. When you breathe through your mouth continuously you increase the risk of dry mouth due to reduced salivary flow. When you breathe through the mouth all the time it increases oral bacteria, which can lead to bad breath as well as tooth decay and gum disease. If your child is a chronic mouth breather, other than during seasonal colds or allergies make sure you discuss with your child’s dentist or pediatrician. They may want to have their tonsils, adenoids and sinuses evaluated as they can be a common cause of mouth breathing.
Medications: If your child is on an antibiotic for a long period of time or uses an inhaler they could develop a fungal infection known as Thrush. This usually appears in the back of the throat and sometimes on the cheeks.
Foreign object in Nose: Children are guilty of sticking food, crayons and other random objects in their nose, if not removed it can cause an infection leading to bad breath. If this happens do not try to remove object, have a medical professional properly remove object.
Medical Conditions: Tonsillitis, Seasonal Allergies and Sinus infections, Gastroesophageal reflex disease (GERD), Liver problems (breath smells like fish or rotten eggs), Diabetes (acetone or fruity smelling breath) and Kidney problems (foul smelling breath similar to urine).
If you start noticing or have noticed bad breath in your child be sure to discuss with your child’s dentist. As I mentioned in the beginning, it could be as simple as stepping up your child’s homecare routine and changing the products they use, but it could also be a sign of something more serious. Try a few of the following to help prevent bad breath in your children. Have them drink water frequently to prevent dry mouth, replace toothbrush every 3 months, use a mouth rinse that does not have alcohol, or Sodium Laurel Sulfate, feed your child a fibrous breakfast to simulate salivary flow, visit their dentist regularly and keep any item that your child may put in their mouth as sterile as possible.