Starting your child off with proper oral hygiene early on is vital, but you may run into bumps along the way. Brushing at least twice a day is standard and healthy for developing teeth, but sometimes bad breath can happen for a multitude of reasons that aren’t always directly related to brushing. There are other health issues that may be at play here so bad breath is not something you want to dismiss lightly. Make sure you are aware of your kid’s bad breath and take action early on if you notice it to be a persistent problem once you’ve ruled out that poor brushing may be the culprit.
Leaky and trouble sinuses are an often overlooked cause of bad breath. These issues can sometimes be caused by a combination of reasons like allergies or a deviated septum. If you find your child often has a stuffy nose, breathing issues, asthma, or always sounds nasally, they could be suffering from frequent sinus infections. When sinus issues occur, fluid tends to collect in the nasal passages and throat, which also happens to be an ideal place for bacteria to thrive. This can often result in stinky breath that can’t be solved with mouthwash or brushing because the source is deep inside the throat, not just the mouth. The best way to solve this issue is to see your child’s doctor and see what the proper course of action would be. Usually, these infections are prescribed antibiotics to clean up the infection. However, if your kid is constantly suffering from sinusitis, there may be more serious conversations to be had, including sinus surgery or more extensive treatments.
It’s not uncommon for kids to deal with tonsil issues at an early age. In fact, medical professionals encourage parents to have their children’s tonsils removed at an early age, as the surgery can prove to be very painful and difficult to recover from as an adult. However, not all tonsils need to be removed, but when they become inflamed or infected, bad breath can occur as a result. Sometimes this can be solved with a simple antibiotic, but there may be surgery required if it’s an ongoing problem. Typically in older kids and teens, tonsil stones can cause an issue as well. Since tonsils tend to be porous, sometimes bacteria and small particles can get stuck to them, creating small stones that carry an awful smell. These can be removed by a dentist or manually at home.
Young infants and toddlers are notorious for sticking objects into the mouth and nose out of curiosity. While these events can turn into funny stories down the line, it’s also a dangerous situation that parents need to be aware of. Make sure to check that your child’s bad breath isn’t being caused by a button, stone, or Lego piece that may have made its way into their nasal or oral cavity. Grab a flashlight and take a look, but do not attempt to remove this on your own as you can potentially push it further into the body by accident. Go to your local urgent care where a professional can remove the item safely.
Active kids can sometimes experience dry mouth caused by dehydration or mouth breathing, and it’s a very common thing that happens. Dry mouth is one of the leading causes of bad breath next to tooth decay and gum disease, so it’s important to make sure your child stays hydrated at all time. Dry mouth can also cause tooth decay to worsen since the mouth is not properly lubricated to wash away bacteria off teeth. Also, make sure you’re aware of your children’s medication side-effects as it’s not an uncommon result of something as simple as an over-the-counter antihistamine. If you have more concerns about persistent dry mouth, make sure you speak with your pediatric dentist.
Gut health is an essential part of overall health, and when the gut flora is out of balance, it can sometimes cause bad breath. If your kid is an overly picky eater or only eats a very limited diet, bad breath can come as a result. If your child’s gut is compromised or disturbed, the smell will come from their stomachs, not just from their mouths. Make sure they are eating a properly balanced diet, and that food allergies are confirmed by an allergist.
In order to combat your child’s bad breath, take into consideration the following steps:
- Replace their toothbrush every few months. Dull or overused bristles can become less effective and even harmful to tooth enamel.
- Schedule regular checkups to make sure there isn’t a build-up of odor causing plaque that can cause chronic bad breath.
- Make sure your child is not deal with halitosis or other health concerns that need to be treated by a professional.
- Emphasize the importance of flossing every day to remove particles between teeth that can invite bacteria to grow in the mouth.
- Make sure your kid is brushing at least twice a day, especially after meals.
- Introduce your child to mouthwash and gargling that can help get rid of tonsil stones or buildup of bacteria in the bath of the mouth.
- Teach your child the importance of brushing their tongue! There are a lot of nasty bacteria that can linger there and negatively impact teeth nearby.
- Buy your child a reusable water bottle that they can fill up at home or at school to make sure they are always properly hydrated, especially if they are taking medication that may cause dry mouth.
- Introduce child-friendly probiotic supplements if you feel that their diet may be unbalanced due to picky eating or food allergies.
- If your kid has a “cold” that lasts for more than several days, it may be a bigger underlying issue. Sinusitis can present itself like a cold, but there is usually a bigger underlying issue.
While bad breath is certainly unpleasant, it can also be a red flag alerting you to issues that may be more extensive, so make sure you don’t shrug it off!