We all expect babies and young children to smell sweet. The childcare industry feeds this expectation by perfuming most childcare products with signature `baby aromas’. The media reinforces it by presenting imagery of children looking freshly bathed, combed and powdered and biology is at work here too, releasing `happy hormones’ like dopamine to fuel the brain’s
reward center when parents sniff their offspring.
In the midst of this barrage of expectations, it often comes as a rude shock to parents when they first discover that their child has bad breath, also known as halitosis.
According to a survey conducted by the International Journal Of Dental Hygiene , 37.6% of children suffered from bad breath. This statistic is likely to grow exponentially in the future as more processed and high-carb foods fill up grocery store shelves, attracting busy parents who are looking for quick-and-easy meal solutions for their kids.
Why it is important to be concerned about halitosis in children
Halitosis is not just an unsocial phenomenon. The condition can be rooted in both dental and general health anomalies that should be quickly addressed before it can become a chronic problem that carries into adulthood.
Second, bad breath impacts self confidence in children as they make their first forays into society as well. Young peers (as you must know from your own childhood experiences) can be extremely unkind in schoolrooms and playgrounds, and you should be taking every step to sort out the problem of bad breath before your child becomes a victim of school bullies.
What causes bad breath in children?
Kids can suffer from bad breath for a variety of reasons:
- Poor oral hygiene: This most common cause is of course the lack of oral health practices. When kids don’t brush their teeth regularly, food particles and bacteria build up on the teeth and gums, causing an unpleasant smell.
- Lack of proper brushing technique: It isn’t merely enough to ensure that children are brushing their teeth twice a day. If they don’t know the right technique, much of the oral accumulations, especially in gum crevices, will remain.
Proper brushing techniques include:
- Taking at least 2 minutes to brush teeth thoroughly.
- Choosing a soft-bristled toothbrush that protects young gums and tooth enamel from damage.
- Angling the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards the gum line.
- Using gentle circular motions to brush along the gum line.
- Brushing the outer and inner surfaces of all teeth.
Get more tips on how to choose a toothbrush for children.
- Dry mouth: Insufficient production of saliva causes dry mouth, an environment in which certain foul-smelling bacteria can thrive.
- Periodontal diseases: Gum diseases can begin early, especially if your child consumes a lot of sugary drinks and highly processed foods.
- Respiratory infections: Infections in the nose, throat, or lungs, as well as sinus infections.
- GERD or acid reflux: A condition causing foul-smelling stomach acids to come up into the throat.
- Mouth Breathing: Nasal congestion and breathing through the mouth instead of the nose.
- Dentures or braces: The hardware of braces allows tiny food particles to get lodged in between brackets and wires, and unless they are cleaned properly, certain oral bacterias work on the trapped food, producing foul-smelling by-products in the process.
- Eating certain foods: Pungent foods like garlic and onions contain sulfur compounds that can be released through the breath.
How To Treat Bad Breath In Children
- Encourage your child to brush and floss regularly. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day helps remove food particles and bacteria that cause bad breath.
- Use a scraper or toothbrush to gently scrape their tongue. This will help remove bacteria and debris that settle and accumulate on the tongue.
- Make sure they drink plenty of water, especially after meals. Drinking water helps keep the mouth hydrated and washes away food particles and bacteria.
- Avoid sugary drinks and snacks. Foods high in sugar can contribute to bad breath by feeding the bacteria in the mouth.
- Use a humidifier. A humidifier can help add moisture to the air, which can help keep the mouth from drying out. This is especially helpful in dry climates or during winter when the air is drier.
Home Remedies For Bad Breath In Children
Some breath-sweetening solutions to try at home include:
- Drinking lots of water, especially first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to detoxify the system.
- Rinsing the mouth with a saltwater solution. Add ¼ tsp of salt to 8 oz of warm water and have your child gargle with it for about 30 seconds. Repeat as needed.
- Baking soda is a simple and inexpensive way to cure bad breath in kids. When used properly, baking soda can neutralize the acids that cause halitosis and kill the bacteria that thrive in an acidic environment. Mix one tsp of baking soda with 8 oz of water for gargling for 30 seconds. For best results, use baking soda to cure bad breath at least once a day.
- Tea tree is an essential oil that freshens breath and works on infections as well. Add 1-2 drops of tea tree oil to your child’s toothpaste and let them brush as usual.
- Yogurt is packed with protein, calcium and probiotics, and can be an effective dietary ingredient in combating bad breath. The live bacteria in yogurt help to break down food particles and neutralize odor-causing compounds. Additionally, the lactic acid in yogurt helps to reduce the growth of plaque-forming bacteria.
When To Talk To A Pediatric Dentist About Bad Breath
If no home remedy for bad breath has worked so far, it is time to consult a pediatric dentist about halitosis. Diagnosis and treatment of underlying conditions may be necessary and Dr. Duffy and Dr. Wehr, both pediatric dentists, will be able to give you the assistance you need.
If you have any further questions, be sure to let us know! Call our office at 972-724-1617 or request an appointment here