Bad breath in children
SUMMARY: Stinky breath in class can ruin chances with a girl, but it may have even bigger effects.
Posted: October 7, 2013
Fifth grade on the playground behind the monkey bars. In science class hoping to get paired together for a project. We all likely remember when we first started taking an interest in girls or boys. How we looked suddenly became important, and how we smelled was a new phenomenon that not only your mother cared about. And if you went off with bad breath to talk to a girl, she might as well have been wearing a sign around her neck that said, "thanks, but no thanks."
Halitosis, the medical name for bad breath, is fairly common in children. It results from sulfur compounds in the mouth that emit a foul odor. Think of rotting eggs, that's a sulfur compound. As a kid, and even for an adult, stinky breath can be embarrassing. Besides having girls wince in your face while talking to them, other kids may tease children if they have poor oral hygiene. So by keeping a kid's mouth clean, we can help improve his or her oral health and even social life.
Culprits of bad breath in children
The leading cause of halitosis in kids is poor dental hygiene. Food particles stuck on the teeth or tongue can trigger dental plaque and bacteria build-up, which turn the mouth into something along the lines of a dirty laundry basket. Often, kids don't brush their teeth often or consistently enough. Even when at night they give you the "I'm too tired" face before bed, you should make sure they brush. It will help diminish cavities and foul odors. While we sleep, saliva production plummets, allowing bacteria to form and giving way to what we know as "morning breath."
Tell your children to brush their pearly whites in the morning before breakfast. It may seem counterintuitive, but brushing prior to eating is healthier for your teeth. The reason? If you wait until after breakfast, the germs left in your mouth from sleeping combine with the sugary foods to deteriorate and soften the enamel, which is the the protective layer on your teeth. Upon brushing, you may scrub away this defensive coating.
An infection in the throat, such as tonsillitis, may also lead to halitosis. Infections of the tongue or upper respiratory problems are common culprits of bad breath.
Breathing through the mouth at night is another cause. Most frequently this occurs when our noses are partially blocked or we feel congested. It dries out the mouth, leaving a breeding ground for smelly bacteria.
Best ways to avoid halitosis
You can take simple measures to ensure that your kids steer clear of dental problems and oral odors.
Beyond brushing twice per day and flossing once per day, make sure your son or daughter switches toothbrushes at least every three months. Otherwise, bacteria latches onto the bristles and simply transfers back into their mouths while scrubbing. Gross, right?
Have them rinse their mouth out after meals. Even swishing around water for a few seconds then spitting it out can flush out food particles. Alcohol-free mouthwash - the key phrase is alcohol-free - is effective in the morning and at night as well. If you buy rinse that contains alcohol, though it may seem like its working immediately after gurgling, it'll quickly dry out the mouth. Just like the issue during sleeping, a dry mouth will invite smelly bacteria to develop.
If halitosis becomes an especially noticeable problem, don't serve your kids foods like onions, garlic, spicy meats (pepperoni, salami) or strong-scented cheeses. All of these may contribute to foul breath.
In addition, have them chew sugar-free gum to dislodge food bits and wear off dental plaque. Look for xylitol on the package - this is a plus.