Causes of Halitosis in Children
We all know what halitosis is: bad breath. Halitosis affects a very large segment of the population and has numerous causes. The bottom line is, if your child has bad breath, we need to find the cause and eliminate it, rather than covering up the problem with mouthwash, gum or other treatments.
Causes of Bad Breath in Children
Children most often have bad breath when they have an upper respiratory infection, such as the flu, a cold, allergies or postnasal drip. We advise this as the first thing to check out. If your child suddenly has bad breath, take him or her to the pediatrician to see if any of the above problems are the cause. If it’s the flu or a cold, it’s likely that other symptoms are also present. However, bad breath that doesn’t go away after cold or flu has passed may be due to persistent postnasal drip secondary to allergies. Only allergy testing, followed by treatment, can eliminate bad breath that results from allergies.
The second-most common reason for bad breath in children is gum disease.
Yes, children can get gum disease just like adults can. Gum disease is a result of poor dental hygiene. Even the youngest child needs to have teeth and gums brushed at least twice daily, and flossing introduced when teeth are present. If your baby’s first tooth has yet to erupt, massaging the gums twice a day with a clean, wet cloth will eliminate some of the vestiges of breast milk or formula that leaves an acidic coating on the teeth, leading to decay.
Untreated Cavities Cause Breath Odor
There is a distinctive odor to untreated cavities. While many parents believe that cavities in baby teeth require no treatment since the teeth will soon fall out, this is actually incorrect. Baby teeth are quite important, as they save space for permanent teeth, and aid in chewing and speech development. Here at iSmile Kids in lower Manhattan, our pediatric dentist treats cavities in baby teeth as well as in permanent teeth.
Infected Tonsils Cause Halitosis in Children
Enlarged tonsils create a constricted airway that causes mouth breathing. Mouth breathing dries the mouth, resulting in bad breath. Further, dry oral tissues compound any bacterial infection in the mouth.
Diabetes Is Linked to Bad Breath
Halitosis is sometimes one of the first indications of Type 1 diabetes, the diabetes that most often appears in childhood. High glucose levels force the body to use fats as a fuel source, which causes ketones to build up. Ketones are acids that normally are removed through the body’s waste products and through the breath. Excessive ketones cause halitosis. If you have a family history of diabetes or your child is a diabetic, check blood sugars often to be sure they remain in a safe level.
Mints, Gum and Mouthwash to Treat Halitosis in Children
If the underlying reasons for halitosis are not being treated, masking the odor with mints, gum or mouthwash will not eliminate its cause. In addition to good oral hygiene and the use of sugar-free mints or gum, we advise brushing the tongue twice a day and drinking plenty of water to eliminate halitosis caused by too little hydration.
If you have concerns about your child’s breath, please speak to your pediatrician about it to rule out any of the above conditions. Our NYC pediatric dentist will discuss any odors in your child’s mouth that are detected during routine examinations and cleaning.