Dealing with your own oral hygiene can be work enough. And to be honest, most parents don’t pay the kind of attention to their children’s oral hygiene as they ought to. As a result, many mums and dads are surprised when they catch a whiff of the not-so-pleasant odours emitting from their children’s mouths. So, if you are wondering how to get rid of bad breath in a child, stick with us. We’ve got the details you need to nip that stinky breath in the bud.
Causes of Bad Breath in Children
For the many parents asking, “Why does my child’s breath smell bad?”, we’re here to provide you with some answers. There are multiple reasons that this could be happening, many of which offer quick and simple fixes.
So, let’s get started.
A Lack of Brushing and Flossing
Okay, okay. We know that your child’s baby teeth won’t stay in their mouth forever, but that doesn’t mean it is okay to neglect your little one’s pearly whites.
From the time that your infant cracks his or her first tooth, you’ll need to start brushing with a soft bristled baby toothbrush and some water. As silly as it may sound, even this simple act can rid your baby’s mouth of deposits and debris that could be the culprit of bad breath.
Got a toddler on your hands? That’s even more reason to make sure your little one gets the brushing they need. Since your toddler is eating solid foods multiple times on a daily basis, it is imperative that you remove the plaque and bacteria on your child’s tongue, teeth and gum line to prevent stinky breath from forming.
A Decrease in Saliva
Though we don’t typically view our own saliva in a positive light, the truth is that saliva plays a very important role in keeping our mouths healthy and clean. By preventing debris from sticking on our teeth long term, saliva actually washes away problematic bacteria that can wreak havoc on our dental health.
Moreover, saliva contains antimicrobials that kill odour-causing germs responsible for horrible breath.
Because of these truths, it is easy to see how a decrease in saliva would be a negative thing in terms of your child’s breath. It could be that your toddler or baby’s breath smells because he or she is sleeping with their mouth open or is dehydrated, both of which can contribute to stinky smells emitting from your child’s mouth.
Another reason for bad breath could easily be underlying medical issues involving your baby or toddler.
Conditions involving the tonsils or sinuses are often common culprits. Medications can even render negative outcomes, as some chemicals may give off an unpleasant smell once broken down by the body. Some medications, such as antihistamines, are known to dry out the mouth which in turn can cause stinky breath as discussed in the aforementioned segment. Surprisingly, even something as simple as a common cold can be the culprit of temporarily smelly breath.
For tips on how to tell if your baby may have a fever, check out our post.
Potent Smelling Foods
It’s no secret that many of the foods we choose to eat can be offensive on our breath, especially once digested.
Onions and garlic, two common foods you’d want to avoid on a first date, are among a few of the stinky offenders that could render bad breath in your child.
So, if you’ve been cooking meals with loads of garlic, onions or other potent smelling foods, watch out! You might be plaguing your baby or child with bad breath for at least the next few hours.
Yes, smelly tonsils have the ability to make breath stink, particularly when they develop cysts or pockets in which bacteria can get trapped. Tonsil stones develop as this debris accumulates, and can be exacerbated by mucus and dairy products.
Tooth Decay or Other Dental Needs
Does your child have tooth decay, an abscess, gum disease or another oral issue? You may want to get your son or daughter checked to find out. Often-times, it is conditions like these that lend themselves to offensive mouth odour.
Get medical advice for situations such as these to pin down the root cause for baby or child bad breath.
Here’s a weird and scary one for you… sometimes bad breath can be attributed to small foreign objects, such as food or a toy, lodged in your child’s nose. Over time, this object will attract bacteria and the smell will emit from your child’s mouth.
To be sure, take your child to a medical professional to get help if you suspect this to be the culprit.
Is Halitosis in Children Normal?
When it comes to the often asked question of, “Is it normal for my child’s breath to smell bad?” the answer is both yes and no.
Depending on the cause and at what age, halitosis could be completely normal, and even expected. However, it could also be a sign of a major concern.
It may, or may not, surprise you to know that babies, too, can be the possessors of foul-smelling breath. Despite what you may think, small babies can develop halitosis, even if only from breastfeeding or formula feeding at night. This can wreak havoc on your little one’s toothy smile, so you’ll want to be diligent about brushing twice a day.
To nip this kind of smelly breath in the bud, consider swiping your baby’s gums with a clean wash-cloth to keep bacteria and germs at bay. You could also try purchasing a dual purpose toothbrush and gum massager like the one found in this baby healthcare kit for added ease and comfort.
If you’ve got an older baby, the chances are even higher that smelly breath could develop. Along with the sprouting of fresh new teeth comes the exciting adventure of eating and exploring new foods. As your baby has his or her first go at new and yummy delectables, you may notice a funky odour, especially after big dinners. Those onions, garlic or dairy products may linger on your baby’s breath longer than you anticipated, and in many causes, incorporating brushing into your babies routine twice a day works to eliminate the problem.
For 2 year old bad breath, the culprits mentioned above for babies are also usually the source of unpleasant odours. Just be sure to offer your toddler water as often as possible to rule out the chances of dehydration, and also be sure to get those teeth squeaky clean using fluoride free toothpaste whenever possible.
For children ages 3-18, the factors for what could be causing halitosis will vary by age and lifestyle. To narrow down what might be causing offending odours, consider consulting your paediatrician.
If your younger teen has been experimenting with drugs or cigarettes, be sure to take this into consideration when exploring the causes of your child’s bad breath. Tobacco and other agents increase halitosis in it’s users.
How to Get Rid of Bad Breath in a Child
And now for the good stuff… how do you get rid of bad breath in kids?
Well to start, always consider your child’s age, eating habits and overall health. If bad breath is persistent, it is important to rule out any impending health issues, especially if bad breath remains even after brushing.
Once you have confirmed with your paediatrician that there aren’t underlying medical conditions or impairments going on, it is important to hone in on your child’s oral hygiene.
We are assuming that you are brushing your child’s teeth at least twice a day, and that if you aren’t, you’ll start.
When doing so, be sure to use a toothbrush with soft bristles for babies, toddlers and young children, and to never use fluoride toothpaste before your child is able to spit, which is around 6 years old. Before the age of six, child size toothbrushes and “training” toothpastes marked as fluoride free like the one found here will be your safest option for a healthy and clean mouth.
When brushing your child’s teeth, ensure that you are brushing along the child’s gum line, brushing your child’s tongue, and flossing between his or her teeth to remove hidden food particles.
For a squirmy or otherwise obstinate toddler, you may consider allowing them to “brush” their own teeth first for a period of time, before you take over. Consider setting a timer for 3-5 minutes as you allow your child to happily brush their own teeth in a way that is safe and fun for them. Once time is up, however, it is important that you take the reins and brush your child’s teeth yourself, until he or she is old enough to get the job done right, on their own.
Thinking about using mouthwash for toddlers? Hold your horses. Until your child knows how to spit, we aren’t recommending the use of mouth rinses as they can be easily digested. Not to mention, fun flavours like “bubblegum” won’t be very effective at covering up stinky odours, anyway.
Pinpointing the Reasons For Bad Breath in Children Is Crucial
Remember, there are many causes of halitosis in babies and children, and as such, efforts to pinpoint the exact cause of persistent bad breath is both needed and necessary. After bolstering your baby or child’s oral hygiene efforts, you may consider taking a trip to your local paediatrician for help determining any underlying causes as to why the bad breath may be persisting. No matter what the cause, your local medical provider will likely be able to suggest the next course of action to remediating the offensive odours so your child can get back to a happy, healthy, fresh-smelling mouth again!
For even more information about how to combat bad breath in kids, see this article on toddler bad breath published by Healthline.