Bad breath in kids is a pretty common problem. It’s completely normal for a child to wake up with bad breath in the morning, but if the bad breath lingers even after they brush their teeth, it’s something to look into. Here are five common causes of bad breath in kids — and some tips for addressing them.
1. Poor Brushing
Bad breath could simply indicate that your child is not doing a good job of brushing their teeth. They’re not effectively removing the plaque and bacteria that make for a smelly mouth. Remind your child to brush twice per day, and start observing them as they brush. Are they brushing for a full two minutes? Does it seem like they’re focusing on one area and missing another? Give them some pointers, and ask your dental hygienist to give them a brushing lesson the next time they’re at the dentist.
2. Gum Disease
Gum disease is an infection of the gums caused by smelly oral bacteria. Do your child’s gums look red, or do they experience bleeding after brushing? These are sure signs of gum disease. Brushing and flossing more thoroughly and also using an antiseptic mouthwash, will clear up most mild cases. If your child is still showing symptoms after a week or two, make an appointment with the dentist. They may need more intensive treatment like a specialized mouthwash or a tooth cleaning.
Cavities can make for a smelly mouth. By the time a cavity causes bad breath in kids, it is usually quite serious. Other symptoms your child may experience include sensitivity to heat and cold, achy teeth, and the appearance of spots on the teeth. Your child’s dentist should be able to fill the cavity, which will resolve the odor issues and prevent the cavity from getting worse. Regular dental checkups usually ensure cavities are detected before they get bad enough to cause nasty breath.
The problem may not be your child’s teeth at all. Many children suffer from allergies, which cause sinus congestion and a post-nasal drip. The mucous produced can have an odor. If your child’s dentist does not find anything amiss with his or her teeth, consider making an appointment with an allergist, especially if your child has complained of symptoms like sneezing, congestion, and itchiness.
5. Tonsil Stones
Another possible cause of bad breath in kids is tonsil stones. These are hardened pieces of old food, bacteria, and mucous that can form in the crypts of the tonsils. Your child may cough them up sometimes; they are off-white and have a smelly odor. Your child’s dentist or doctor can remove them. Long-term, using mouthwash and better managing allergy symptoms can keep them at bay.
Addressing Bad Breath in Kids
If your child’s breath is unpleasant, start by working with them to improve their brushing and flossing habits. Then, make an appointment with your pediatric dentist. Bad breath can be embarrassing, but it is not a problem to ignore.