Solving your kids’ struggle with stinky breath.
Morning breath before brushing or garlicky breath after dinner is normal, but what if your child’s bad breath seems to be an unpleasant guest throughout the day?
Your child might have a case of halitosis.
What is halitosis?
Halitosis, chronic bad breath, is a common problem many parents bring up to their child’s pediatric dentist. Unlike typical stinky breath that goes away after a good brushing, halitosis tends to linger, and breath freshening products like mints or mouthwash don’t seem to do a thing. Sometimes you might even question if your child actually brushed their teeth.
The majority of halitosis cases are linked to an oral health condition, such as poor oral hygiene or a growing infection. Either way, halitosis is generally a symptom of something bigger, which is why you should definitely tell your child’s dentist if they have lingering bad breath.
What causes halitosis in kids?
When a pediatric dentist is treating a case of halitosis, the underlying cause is often discovered to be one of these four.
1. Forgetful or rushed brushing and flossing sessions.
The most common cause of bad breath in kids is poor oral hygiene. Kids can be forgetful, especially when it comes to tasks that aren’t necessarily exciting. Most kids know that brushing and flossing are important, but they might forget to brush before bed, not use proper brushing techniques, rush through brushing, or forget to floss daily.
Over time, these rushed brushing and flossing sessions take a toll. Food debris remains stuck in their teeth, oral bacteria grows, and plaque builds up. All of these things eventually lead to a case of halitosis, and even when your child does brush and floss, the bad breath still lingers.
2. An underlying oral infection or medical condition.
Poor oral hygiene habits eventually lead to cavities, which can smell quite bad when left untreated. Gum disease can also cause bad breath, and generally occurs when plaque buildup begins to irritate the gums around the teeth, causing inflammation or gingivitis. Light bleeding on your child’s toothbrush or floss is a common sign of gum disease.
Other oral infections could be a sinus infection or swollen tonsils. If you notice any related symptoms to these two infections, a trip to their pediatrician is in order.
Last but not least, some underlying medical conditions can also cause bad breath; for example, kids undergoing chemotherapy may experience halitosis. Certain diseases like kidney diseases and diabetes also have halitosis as a symptom.
3. Dry mouth and open-mouth breathing habits.
Dry mouth causes bad breath because poor saliva flow isn’t able to naturally wash away bacteria in the mouth. A lack of saliva can be caused by thumb-sucking habits, medications with dry-mouth side effects, open-mouth breathing, and chronic dehydration.
Open-mouth breathing can be particularly detrimental as it dries out the mouth quickly. Poor bite alignment or obstructive sleep apnea are two of the most common causes of open-mouth breathing. If you notice your child breathing through their mouth during the day or at night while sleeping, their pediatric dentist and pediatrician can work together to find a solution.
4. A strong-smelling food or drink they love.
If your child often eats the same foods on a daily or near-daily basis, it could be causing their halitosis. Red meats, onion, garlic, and certain strong-smelling spices are often to blame. While having these foods on occasion isn’t a big deal, if they are consumed often, the odors can enter their bloodstream and be expelled when breathing or sweating. Some kids are more sensitive to this than others.
What can be done about it?
You can help get your child’s halitosis under control by doing these 5 things.
1. Supervise brushing and flossing sessions, even for older kids.
Most kids are ready to brush independently around the age of seven, but parents should still supervise often to ensure their kids are caring for their teeth properly. A fun way of supervising without making kids feel like they’re being watched is to brush together as a family.
2. Replace toothbrushes every three to four months.
Toothbrushes can hold on to harmful oral bacteria and smells. Replace your kids’ toothbrushes at least every three to four months. Toothbrushes should be replaced sooner if they show signs of wear and tear or if your child has been sick or had tooth decay treated.
3. Keep a six-month schedule for dental checkups and cleanings.
Most kids do well with seeing their pediatric dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning. These checkups give their dentist an opportunity to catch early warning signs of trouble. The cleanings also remove plaque buildup to prevent decay, gingivitis, and bad breath before it has a chance to start.
4. Schedule follow-up treatments as soon as possible.
If your child’s dentist does notice a cavity or some gum inflammation, follow up on their recommended treatment as soon as possible. If your schedule is jam-packed, talk with our office staff and we can work together to get your child’s treatment appointment booked as quickly as possible.
5. Report any unusual symptoms to their dentist quickly.
Most importantly, if you ever notice anything amiss with your child’s smile, get in touch with their dentist. No worry is too small, and many oral health conditions begin with what seem to be superficial symptoms. It’s always better to be safe than risk a cavity or oral infection.
The We Make Kids Smile team can get to the bottom of what’s really causing your child’s bad breath.
If your child is struggling with halitosis or you have a question about kids’ dental care, our team is ready to help! You can schedule an appointment by calling your preferred location or using this online form.