Bad breath affects everyone, regardless of age. While many parents may be concerned about whether their child has cavities or if their teeth are coming in straight, they may not be thinking about their child's halitosis - but they should. Children notice each other's breath just like adults do, and it's important that you don't send your child off to school with foul-smelling oral odor.
While the cause of a child's bad breath may simply be forgetting to brush or indulging in something laden with onions or garlic, it could be something more.
Dental issues and beyond
It's no secret that children are more prone to cavities than adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay affects children more than any other chronic infectious disease. Cavities are caused by a buildup of plaque and bacteria in the mouth that wears away at tooth enamel. Along with leading to tooth loss, this buildup can also cause some bad breath. So if you're child's breath is less-than-fresh, you may want to schedule a visit with the dentist.
Also, allergies or a cold may be the source of your child's halitosis. He may be swallowing mucus as a result of post-nasal drip, which can cause some very unpleasant breath. Also, a stuffy nose could be causing him to breathe out of his mouth. When there isn't enough saliva to wash leftover food particles and bacteria from the teeth, plaque builds up and causes halitosis.
Is something stuck up there?
If you've run through all of the dental and sinus issues that may be causing your child's bad breath, then there may be another option you haven't considered - something could be stuck in his nose. While this is an affliction common in young children, it happens fairly often.
According to Baby Center, a foreign object in the nose can lead to halitosis. This is likely due to the fact that the contents of the nostrils are not draining properly and are backing up into the throat.
Penn Medicine spoke to Alan Greene, M.D., who said that if you suspect that your child has something stuck in their nose, check to see if you can spot it with your naked eye. If you can, take a pair of tweezers and gently try to pull it out, or close one of your child's nostrils and blow. However, if you can't see it, then it's time to go to the doctor. You don't want to be blindly sticking something up your child's nose without being able to see what you are trying to grab. Doctors have special tools to safely remove these objects. Greene said that his own son once had peas stuck in his nose, and a special nose vacuum was used to suck them out one by one.
More serious causes
If your child has bad breath and is complaining of pain in his throat, then he may have strep or a viral infection in his mouth or throat. He may also may need to get his tonsils out. According to Parents magazine, the signs that your child may need to have his tonsils taken out include that he's having trouble concentrating in school, he snores a lot or he's often complaining of a sore throat.
Of course, if your child's bad breath is merely due to last night's supper, then teach him how to gargle with alcohol-free mouthwash to fix the problem.