Why Does My Child Have Bad Breath?
Most parents can agree that bad breath in children is a fairly common concern. Maybe you worry that bad breath is indicative of poor oral health or that it will negatively affect your child’s social skills. In any case, you’ve come to the right place. Bad breath in children can have a variety of causes and solutions. Dr. Sydney Joyce, your family and children’s dentist in Lincoln, NE discusses these below.
Bad breath, called “Halitosis” in the medical world, is a super easy fix if you know what’s causing it. But as it turns out, there are more causes of bad breath in children than you would imagine. In this article, we will explain various causes of bad breath in children as well as offer some solutions.
Your family and children’s dentist in Lincoln, NE discusses the link between sinus infections and bad breath in children
Young children can develop sinus infections just like adults. Although a child’s sinuses aren’t fully developed until they become teenagers, the sinuses behind the cheeks and eyes develop before birth. Sinus infections cause mucus to drip down the back of the throat into the mouth, causing chronic bad breath in children.
Tonsillitis and Bad Breath in Children
Tonsillitis happens when a child’s tonsils are swollen. Children often develop swollen tonsils due to infection, so many parents elect to have their child’s tonsils removed at an early age. The bacteria that causes these infections can also cause bad breath.
To provide comprehensive care to our pediatric patients, we partner with ENT specialists at Ear, Nose & Throat Specialties. Find out more about Ear Nose & Throat Specialties PC in Lincoln, NE.
Dehydration and Bad Breath in Children
When a child is dehydrated, there is inadequate saliva flow in the mouth. The muscles of the face and saliva work together during chewing to help clear away bacteria and food debris during eating. Dehydration reduces the saliva flow, allowing bacteria and food debris to remain in the mouth and on tooth surfaces, leading to bad breath and tooth decay in children.
Mouth-Breathing and Bad Breath in Children
Children who breathe through their mouths often develop significant harmful bacteria in their mouths. Mouth-breathing causes dry mouth, which in turn can cause an increase of bacteria, ultimately leading to bad breath.
Build-Up of Bad Bacteria on the Tongue
Bacteria build-up happens naturally in our mouths. For kids, it’s especially common to develop bacteria on the back of the tongue. While some bacteria is natural and even beneficial, you may also notice that your child’s tongue has a thin, white film. This is the direct result of a build-up of bad bacteria. Most of the time this happens as a result of poor oral hygiene. Just like other types of bacteria in your child’s mouth, this too causes bad breath in children.
Cavities and Bad Breath in Children
Cavities tend to cause bad breath in children. When children consume a high volume of sugary foods and drinks, they often develop tooth decay at a young age. This is because the bacteria that lives in the mouth feeds on sugars and creates an acidic environment, slowly eroding away the enamel of the teeth and leading to tooth decay. Poor oral hygiene and diets high in sugar are the most common reason for cavities in children and adults. Your family and children’s dentist in Lincoln, NE can help screen your child for cavities and offer treatment to eliminate bad breath caused by untreated tooth decay.
Gum Disease and Bad Breath in Children
When a child has poor oral hygiene, gingivitis is another common condition. When the gum tissue becomes inflamed, and bleeds easily during brushing and flossing, it is a warning sign of the gingivitis. Teaching kids to brush thoroughly along the gum-line as well as regularly visiting your family and children’s dentist in Lincoln, NE for professional cleanings and oral hygiene advice will help to treat and prevent gingivitis.
Foreign Objects and Bad Breath in Children
Although it’s not common, there have been cases of children accidentally lodging objects into their nose. When this happens, the objects tend to harbor significant amounts of bacteria. The bacteria tends to cause bad breath in children.
Bacteria’s Role in Bad Breath
You may have noticed that the vast majority of causes of bad breath that we have discussed are caused from an overgrowth of bacteria. Many types of bacteria flourish within our bodies, both good and bad.
Significant amounts of harmful bacteria live beneath our tongues and within our throats. Research has established that this bacteria produces VSCs, or Volatile Sulfur Compounds. This can significantly contribute to malodor in the mouth.
Which kinds of bacteria cause bad breath in children?
Anaerobic bacteria is the primary cause. This bacteria is most commonly linked with infections in the human body. They occur semi-naturally from foreign particles in wounds and unclean parts of a person’s body. This means that it is entirely natural for anaerobic infections to develop in our body. While it is natural, it isn’t necessarily good. Anaerobic infections happen in our mouths because of the buildup of plaque, which, while natural, is harmful for our teeth. This is why it’s important to regularly see our family and children’s dentist to help keep our oral health optimal at all times.
As a side note, taking antibiotics can actually decrease the amount of good bacteria in a person’s mouth. This too can cause bad breath. You can take probiotics to prevent bad breath associated with taking antibiotics. Learn more about how to choose probiotics here.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bad Breath in Children
Many parents ask about bad breath in children. Your family and children’s dentist in Lincoln, NE Dr. Sydney Joyce answers CAQs.
There are a few things kids and parents can do to eliminate bad breath in children. First, here are some of the most common questions associated with bad breath that we hear in our office.
What can bad breath be a sign of?
Bad breath can be a sign of gingivitis, tonsillitis, dehydration, tooth decay, infected teeth, poor oral hygiene and many more topics discussed above. It is a good idea to practice great oral hygiene as well as visit the dentist regularly to keep the mouth healthy. In addition to this, making sure you are aware of any chronic conditions like allergies, tonsillitis or dehydration or stomach problems your child may be experiencing. Your children’s dentist in Lincoln, NE can work together with your child’s primary care physician to keep them as healthy as possible.
Can bad breath be cured permanently in children?
For the most part, the answer is yes, however, for children who suffer from chronic problems like allergies and dry mouth, it is possible that seasonally they may experience more problems with bad breath. Making sure the mouth is healthy by visiting your children’s dentist in Lincoln, NE regularly, practicing good oral hygiene and staying hydrated and healthy can help reduce bad breath.
What’s the best toothpaste for bad breath in kids?
Toothpaste is helpful in masking odors with a minty flavor, but the reality is that if the bad breath is related to gingivitis or tooth decay, the real cure would be treatment of these conditions with your children’s dentist in Lincoln, NE. Practicing good oral hygiene and using toothpaste daily can help reduce the incidence of cavities, but the main purpose of toothpaste is to create a lubrication for efficient brushing and mechanical removal of odor-causing bacteria.
What is the best way to get rid of bad breath in toddlers?
Brushing twice a day, flossing and seeing the dentist regularly will help control any bacterial growth on the teeth and prevent and treat cavities and gum inflammation. If this is not enough to get rid of the bad breath, consider making an appointment with the child’s doctor to check their tonsils and sinuses for infection or inflammation or stomach for acid-reflux issues.
When should I start taking my child to the dentist? Your family and children’s dentist in Lincoln, NE answers…
Dental conditions can arise even when your child is still a baby or toddler. One of the most commonly asked questions in our office is when children should start seeing the dentist. You can start bringing your child in for exams when their teeth begin to show, around the age of 1. As explained earlier, oral hygiene can play a huge role in the likelihood that your child may be suffering from bad breath. Taking your baby to the dentist is a good start in getting great advice from your family and children’s dentist in Lincoln, NE for good home care and will help rule out tooth or gum-related causes.
When should I start brushing my child’s teeth? Your family and children’s dentist in Lincoln, NE answers…
Oral hygiene is a major part of controlling bad breath. Practicing good home care will help reduce the growth of bacteria in the mouth that causes bad breath in children. When a baby’s first tooth arrives, you can begin brushing by wetting a soft child’s toothbrush and putting a tiny dab of toothpaste on its bristles. You can also softly brush your child’s gums and the front part of his or her tongue. Be careful to brush very gently, as it doesn’t take much to irritate a baby’s mouth since they are not used to brushing around the soft tissues of their mouth.
I’ve heard that breastfeeding can cause tooth decay. Is that true? Your family and children’s dentist in Lincoln, NE answers…
Leaving a bottle in your baby’s mouth as they go to sleep is directly correlated with tooth decay. Milk or juice contain sugar and can collect in your child’s mouth as they sleep, feeding the bacteria in their mouths. The best way to avoid this is by using water at bedtime instead of milk or juice.
Because of the large number of potential causes of bad breath in children, it can be difficult to determine the cause of your child’s specific case. Oral hygiene can certainly help with bad breath in children, but it isn’t always the only solution. Here are some steps you can take to eliminate bad breath in children.
1. Make sure your child is drinking enough water.
Kids are often much more active than adults but are not always in tune with their bodies. The recommended amount of water a child should drink per day varies based on a few factors, but it is generally recommended that children drink around 6 cups of water per day. As they grow, this quantity should increase. Pay close attention to how much water your child is drinking throughout the day. This will help to keep their whole body hydrated and producing adequate saliva to help protect the teeth from overgrowth of harmful bacterial plaque.
2. Help your child with oral health and home care.
It is possible that your child’s bad breath is not from poor oral hygiene or dental-related causes, but in more than half of cases it is the main cause. Parents should assist young children with their oral hygiene each day, brushing twice daily and flossing once daily.
3. Encourage probiotics at home.
Taking probiotics can help promote healthy growth of good bacteria which will help your child’s immune system defend itself against illness. Having balanced gut bacteria helps promote overall health. Probiotics are easy to incorporate through various food sources your child already eats. Foods like yogurt, pickles and other fermented foods contain natural probiotics.
4. Bring your child to the doctor.
If it seems like there may be an underlying health issue behind your child’s bad breath, don’t hesitate to take them to their physician for a checkup. Chronic problems like sinus infections, tonsillitis or foreign objects in the nasal passages are all issues a medical doctor can help diagnose and treat with medication or surgery.
5. Call your family and children’s dentist in Lincoln, NE
You can contact your family and children’s dentist in Lincoln, NE if you aren’t sure why your child has bad breath. If you aren’t sure what dentist or location would best fit you needs, search for “dentist near me” and one of our locations is sure to have what you are looking for. If you have questions about children’s oral health, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to help you keep your child healthy and happy. We can also help you determine causes of bad breath or address other dental concerns you may have.
Wishing you health and wellness,
Dr. Sydney Joyce
Children’s Dentist in Lincoln, NE