Why Does My Child Have Bad Breath?

We all experience bad breath at some point in our lives whether it’s from something we ate or from inadequate brushing, but if your child has chronic bad breath that does not go away, this could be a sign that something is wrong with their oral or overall health. Read on in this blog from Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry to find out why children get bad breath and how to treat it.

What Is Halitosis?

Halitosis is simply the medical term for chronic bad breath. Halitosis can occur at any stage of life and can be embarrassing for the person if they cannot find the source of their foul breath and cannot get it under control. While certain remedies may provide temporary relief, chronic halitosis tends to be persistent and unresponsive to home remedies. 

Causes of Halitosis

Because bad breath is a side effect of many different things, halitosis has many potential causes. The most common cause, however, is inadequate oral hygiene. If you do not regularly brush, floss and attend dental cleanings, you will accumulate bacteria, plaque, and food particles. 

Food particles stuck between the teeth may give off a foul odor and plaque formation also causes bad breath. Once plaque hardens into tartar, children can develop gingivitis, which is an infection of the mouth’s soft tissues. Gum disease, like most other infections, are a common source of bad breath.

Eating pungent foods like garlic or onions can contribute to halitosis, especially because the odor lingers around for hours, even after brushing your teeth. Try eliminating foods with strong odors for a short period to determine if this is the cause. 

Other causes of bad breath include oral thrush and Dry Mouth. If your child’s mouth smells bad, check their tongue. If it looks white and patchy, this is a sign of oral thrush, which is a yeast infection that occurs from an overgrowth of candida bacteria in the mouth. 

This, along with other health conditions like diabetes or acid reflux can lead to foul breath. Saliva is very important in maintaining good oral hygiene, preventing cavities, and preventing halitosis. If your child’s mouth is dry, it probably doesn’t smell great. 

Saliva washes away left-behind food particles and neutralizes acids. When there isn’t enough saliva in the mouth due to certain medical conditions, medication, dehydration, or mouth breathing, more bacteria are present in the mouth and they produce foul odors. 

Other causes of bad breath include large tonsils, ill-fitting tooth restorations that have trapped food particles or bacteria, allergies, and sinus infections. The best way to determine what’s causing your child’s bad breath is to visit the dentist.

How to Treat Halitosis

First and foremost, ensure that your child is practicing good oral hygiene. This means they should brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for 2 to 3 minutes and floss once a day. Make sure that they brush their tongue, which harbors a lot of odor-producing bacteria.

Practicing good oral hygiene at home is not enough. The ADA recommends that your child returns to the dentist for a cleaning every 6 months. Proper oral hygiene eliminates food particles, plaque, and tartar from the mouth which contribute to bacteria, acids, and foul odor.

Make sure your child stays hydrated and breathes through their nose. This will prevent their risk of Dry Mouth. If you notice that your child’s mouth is dry, encourage them to drink water or chew sugar-free gum that contains xylitol. This will help stimulate saliva flow which is crucial for maintaining good breath.

Watch your child’s diet. Frequent snacking and a diet high in sugar, carbohydrates, and acids will encourage bacterial plaque to feed off of these left-behind sugars and convert them into acids. Reducing sugar intake and limiting how often your child snacks throughout the day not only prevents bad breath but also lowers their risk for cavities.

Treat Pediatric Halitosis At Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry

Most kids experience bad breath at some point. It could be from something they ate, inadequate brushing, infrequent cleanings, or an underlying medical issue. If your child has been struggling with chronic bad breath, we’re here to help. 

We can perform an oral exam to look for signs of active oral health problems and a dental cleaning often helps a lot. There is usually no reason to worry if your child is dealing with halitosis.

It does not necessarily mean that your child has a medical condition, and we can help you get it under control. Contact the Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry team in Ashburn to schedule a consultation with Dr. Konz.

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