Bad Breath in Children

Admittedly, bad breath is a problem for adults but it can be a devastating problem for children who are taunted and teased by their peers. However, monster breath is a common problem in our little angels. While many of the causes and symptoms mimic those of adult halitosis, some are especially significant in children.

Foreign Bodies
Bad breath in toddlers is often caused by something lodged in the nose. It may be something as soft as a piece of foam rubber or a kernel of corn or as hard as a dry bean or small toy. Items lodged in the nose can lead to infection that leads to bad breath. If your child has a green discharge from one nostril and no discharge from the other along with his/her bad breath, it could be caused by something that she/he stuck up his nose! If you suspect that a foreign body is the source of your childís bad breath problem you should immediately seek help from your health practitioner.

Dry Mouth
Dry oral tissues allow bacteria to grow and dry mouth is a common reason for bad breath in children.

  • A number of physical ailments may cause mouth breathing. Allergies, sinus infections, tonsillitis, and enlarged adenoids are all examples of conditions that cause mouth breathing.
  • Medications that dry out the mouth may also cause bad breath in children.
  • Thumbsucking or sucking on a favorite blanket or toy also dries oral tissues and can cause bad breath.
As your children grow older, sugarless sour candy or sugarless chewing gum help saliva to flow and mobilize mouth muscles.

Post Nasal Drip
An offshoot of an allergy, recurrent respiratory or sinus infection, post nasal drip is another frequent cause of bad breath in children. Promptly treat cold and allergy symptoms. If your child is too young to blow his or her nose, suction the child's nose with saline and a nasal aspirator, especially before bedtime, to help reduce post-nasal drip and prevent mouth breathing due to clogged nasal air passages.

Good Oral Hygiene Prevents Most Bad Breath Problems in Children
Like in adults, breath mints mask breath odors but donít effectively prevent or eliminate them

Cavities, gingivitis (inflamed gums) and trapped food particles cause bad breath in children as well as in adults. Most cases of bad breath show substantial improvement when you take measures to decrease mouth bacteria and increase salivation.

Make after-meal brushing a habit for your children. Use a windup kitchen timer to help them brush for at least two minutes. Show them how to brush their tongues as well as their teeth.

Teach your child how to floss as well as how to brush their teeth. Experts recommend a daily flossing. If morning is a harried time for dental hygiene tutoring and supervision, have your child floss before bedtime. This will also help you be sure that food particles donít spend the night in your childís mouth!

Be sure your child drinks lots of water every day. Although juice and milk are important nutritionally, they donít have waterís ability to rinse and clean your childís mouth.

    Note: Most experts donít recommend mouthwashes or rinses for small children, since they tend to swallow them.

If bad breath problems persist after youíve established a good dental hygiene program for your child, you should consult with your family health care practitioner. Bad breath in children that isnít easily resolved may be a sign of a more serious health problem.

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