Dr. Marina Krepkh received her dental degree at New York University College of Dentistry and her Specialty in Pediatric Dentistry from Maimonides Medical Center. Dr. Krepkh dedicates herself to prevention and treatment of dental problems of infants, children, and adolescents. She is an active clinician who holds appointments... more
Stinky breath or bad breath is a common problem called halitosis, and it doesn’t just affect adults! In fact, bad breath is pretty common in children, and perhaps you’ve noticed your child’s breath isn’t quite as fresh as you’d like.
What Causes Bad Breath in Kids?
Occasional bad breath is frequently caused by food or drinks. So if your child has had a lot of onions or garlic recently, then be prepared for their breath to stink for a while. Although brushing, flossing and using mouthwash will help to freshen their breath temporarily, it really is just a matter of waiting. These strongly smelling foods are absorbed in the bloodstream and are eventually exhaled, so you just need to wait until these foods have been eliminated from the body.
There are other reasons for bad breath, which are listed below:
Poor Oral Hygiene
Your kid’s bad breath may be due to poor oral hygiene. Everybody’s mouth, even kids, has hundreds of different species of bacteria that live in the mouth and survive by feasting on leftover particles of food. These bacteria can produce hydrogen sulfide as they feed, which smells unpleasant. Also, the longer food remains stuck on and in between your child’s teeth, the greater the chance that it will gradually begin to rot, which smells highly unpleasant.
Make sure your child knows how to brush and floss their teeth correctly or if they are still very young, you must brush and floss their teeth for them. Most children need to be supervised when brushing their teeth up until about age 7, and you may need to continue flossing your child’s teeth until they are about age 10. Until this age, they are unlikely to have enough dexterity to floss thoroughly.
This is an area where your child’s pediatric dentist can help a lot because they are highly experienced in educating children. Your child’s dentist can show them how to brush correctly on their own, teaching them the correct techniques right from the very start. Dentists can also talk to children about why good oral care is so essential, gently explaining how it helps to maintain healthy teeth and gums and a nice attractive smile. Pediatric dentists have spent years completing additional training, so they really are the best people to teach your kid great oral habits.
Oral health problems can cause bad breath, and this may be an issue if your child hasn’t been the best at brushing and flossing their teeth. Tooth decay, gum disease, mouth ulcers and oral infections can all cause bad breath. Most children need to see their pediatric dentist twice yearly for check-ups and cleanings because this is the very best way to detect signs of disease before they can cause unpleasant symptoms like bad breath.
If your child hasn’t seen their dentist recently, make sure you book them a visit for a check-up and professional cleaning. A dental check-up will soon discover if your child’s bad breath is due to oral problems and will ensure the most appropriate treatment can be provided by their dentist.
Additionally, a hygiene treatment is a great way to freshen up anyone’s breath. Your child’s hygienist can professionally clean their teeth, removing all plaque and tartar and any rotting food debris that may be causing halitosis. After having their teeth cleaned professionally, you should hopefully find your child has beautifully sweet, fresh breath.
Children that are keen on sports can often have dry mouth because they are so active and may fail to remember to drink enough fluids. When a child is dehydrated, they can develop bad breath because they will be unable to produce enough saliva to help wash away harmful bacteria in the mouth. Additionally, having a dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease because the drier conditions allow disease-causing bacteria to thrive.
Some children who need to take medications may also develop dry mouth as a side-effect. If this is the case, your child’s dentist can work with you both to reduce the impact of dry mouth. They may suggest using artificial saliva to help keep your child’s mouth more comfortable. Chewing sugar-free gum and sucking on sugar-free candies can help stimulate saliva flow. Simply drinking more water can be very helpful.
Encourage your child to stay well-hydrated, ideally by drinking plenty of plain water. If you can, discourage them from drinking sugary sodas that are terrible for teeth, which are full of empty calories, or from drinking sugary sports drinks. Diet soda is equally as bad for teeth because it is naturally acidic, which erodes tooth enamel.
Sinuses are the air-filled cavities either side of the nose, just above the upper back teeth. If your child has recently had a sore throat or blocked nose, it could be a sinus infection. When sinuses become infected, fluid can collect in the sinus cavities, washing into the nasal passages and throat. A sinus infection can cause bad breath that no amount of tooth brushing and flossing will cure. Their doctor should be able to diagnose a sinus infection and, if needed, can prescribe antibiotics.
Tonsils can frequently cause problems in kids so if your child has stinky breath and you know they look after their teeth, it’s worth looking at their tonsils. When tonsils are healthy, they should be pink and free from spots. Infected tonsils look red and inflamed and can have white spots and will smell nasty. If you suspect your kid has got infected tonsils, get in touch with your child’s pediatrician who can examine them, and, if needed, they will prescribe antibiotics.
Getting Something Stuck in the Nasal Passages
It might be a less common reason for bad breath, but it does happen! Children are naturally curious and will sometimes insert small objects into their nasal passages. If an object becomes lodged in the nasal passage, it can eventually cause an unpleasant smell. Your child’s pediatrician can check to see if this is the case and can remove the offending object.