What causes bad breath in toddlers and how can you remedy it?
Bad breath, or Halitosis, in toddlers is more common than people may think. Considering toddlers have just recently obtained a full set of teeth, no one expects their child to have smelly breath already!
Some of the causes are common and very easily reversed whilst others can include a sign of a dental or throat infection, which can usually be corrected with medication. Very rarely is surgery required to be rid of the bad breath in toddlers.
What Causes Bad Breath in Toddlers?
Though there are many causes of bad breath in both children and adults, some are more common than others. Here are just a few of the causes of bad breath in toddlers.
Dry mouth – Dry mouth can be a result of a variety of factors. One main factor for dry mouth in toddlers depends on if they suck their thumb or use a pacifier, or if they have a stuffy nose frequently. This leads to the excessive use of the mouth to breathe. Which, in turn, leads to a consistent influx of bacteria in the mouth and an aggravation of those that are already there. Dry mouth promotes anaerobic bacteria growth, dry and mucousy throat, and lack of oxygen and saliva. All of these things are required to deter bad breath.
Poor Hygiene – Poor oral hygiene is another leading cause of bad breath in toddlers. Many toddlers are just learning to brush their teeth and keep up with dental health. Food particles and (especially) sugars stick to the tongue, the roof of the mouth, in between and around the teeth. The longer these leftovers stay in the mouth, the more oral bacteria that are fighting to break it down, causing bad breath.
Blockage of the nasal passage – A nasal passage blockage will lead to mouth breathing (see above). This, in turn, causes dry mouth which leads to bad breath.
Poor Dental Care/Dental Infection – Poor dental care or a dental infection, such as an unobserved abscess, multiple cavities, swollen tonsils, or tartar build-up can increase bad breath. If your child exhibits bad breath accompanied by severe mouth pain, darkened teeth, bitter taste in mouth, swollen or red gums, neck, and/or jaw, or appetite loss or fever and weakness; schedule a dental appointment right away. This may be due to a serious oral infection that needs immediate attention.
Odorous Diet – Eating a strong diet consisting of onions, garlic, cheese, and other pungent foods can increase bad breath temporarily.
Poor Health – Tonsilitis, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), seasonal allergies, or nasal problems may be a cause for bad breath. Conditions such as gingivitis, thrush, and acute sinusitis can cause a whitening of the tongue and bad breath in infants and toddlers. Gingivostomatitis is a different sort of condition that causes a sore mouth and red gums accompanied by bad breath. These conditions require dental care before the condition worsens.
Harsh Chemicals – Harsh chemicals, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, which is found in most toothpaste that are designed for adults can seriously harm a toddlers dental health. This particular chemical harms the tissues in the mouth and promotes harmful bacteria growth.
Certain Medications – If your child has recently been ill and has taken medication, this could potentially be the cause of their bad breath. Certain medication breakdown processes cause bad breath in toddlers.
Adenoidectomy – This is a surgery used to treat frequent adenoid or recurrent sinus infections. This results in the breath smelling bad temporarily, which should subside within a few weeks.
Remedies for Bad Breath in Toddlers
There are many things that you can do to remedy bad breath in your toddler. Here are a few solutions.
- Increased Dental Hygiene – Making sure your toddler keeps up on brushing regularly and ensuring that there is no food stuck in their teeth or on their tongue can usually remedy the problem. Ensure to buy toddler toothpaste so you don’t damage their oral tissues or enamel.
- Tongue Brushing – Ensure that your child is brushing their tongue as well as their teeth. Bacteria and plaque collect on the tongue as well as the teeth. Making sure that your child’s tongue is kept clean can assist in keeping bad breath at bay.
- Stricter Diet – Keeping your child from eating pungent foods often can assist in keeping their breath fresh. Increasing their intake of fruits and vegetables is often recommended to assist with dental health and fresher breath.
- Certain things that are good for bad breath are parsley and apple cider vinegar. Adding parsley to your meals can combat bad breath because it is labeled as a mild antiseptic and aids in digestion. Equally, having your child drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (mixed with water, of course) before dinner, or gargling for 10 seconds after dinner can greatly reduce bad breath.
- Homeopathic Mouthwash – A mixture of sage, calendula and myrrh gum in equal parts is said to assist in bad breath. However, children may be resistant to this mouthwash due to the taste. If your child doesn’t like the taste, try having them gargle or drink water before and after each meal. This by itself may decrease your child’s bad breath.
- Hydration – Hydration is key when it comes to treating a dry mouth. Ensure that your toddler drinks plenty of water and this should remedy that bad breath if caused by dry mouth.
- Sanitize – Sanitizing teething rings and other toys that are frequently put in your child’s mouth can prevent bad breath causing bacteria from growing on them.
- Keep up on Checkups – Keeping up with dental care and checkups every year can decrease your child’s chance of getting dental complications and conditions. Making sure that your child regularly visits their dentist will keep abscesses and cavities from occurring. If they are there, your dentist will recommend treatment options that work for you and your family, whether it is medication or minor surgery.
- Wait – Sometimes, waiting is all you can do. If your child has just gotten over an illness, such as the flu or a cold, your child may have obtained bad breath temporarily from the medication or the illness itself. In this case, there is really nothing you can do except wait it out.