What’s Behind Your Child’s Bad Breath?

May 3, 2011

As an adult, you know how embarrassing and unpleasant bad breath can be. If you have bad breath, you know all the things to try to remedy the problem, and, if nothing else works, you know to come in for a dental appointment to see what’s causing your halitosis.

When your toddler suffers from bad breath, however, it can be more difficult to diagnose and treat the problem.

A recent study shows that 23 percent of young children have halitosis. In kids, as in adults, tongue coating, inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), and tooth decay are the most common culprits. Bad breath is caused mostly by volatile sulfur compounds, which are smelly by-products of the breakdown of proteins and sugars by bacteria in the mouth.

A bacterial or viral infection in the mouth or throat, such as strep throat, can produce a foul mouth odor. In this case, your child will usually complain of throat pain and will most likely have a fever. Other, less common, causes of bad breath are chronic postnasal drip from allergies, sinusitis, or a foreign object stuck in the nose. Symptoms like a runny nose often accompany these conditions. Large adenoids and allergies increase the likelihood that a child is a mouth-breather, which can also cause halitosis. Your child’s pediatrician can suggest a treatment if your child tends to breath through his or her mouth and has chronic nasal congestion.

I’m Dr. Brad Greenfield, and I recommend good dental hygiene for your child to see if the bad breath goes away. Good teeth and tongue brushing should help with both bad breath and cavities. Observe your child during teeth brushing, and assist if needed. If the problem persists, call my family dental office in Lake Orion, Michigan, at (248) 693-6213.

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