Where does bad breath come from? Why does it smell so bad? What can a person do to get rid of it? These are some of the questions that public authorities try to answer when campaigning for better oral health among children. Here are some of their responses.
KidsHealth, a website funded by the Nemours Foundation, says that bad breath starts with food. Some foods simply smell strongly to begin with, like onions, garlic, meat and other savory things. These dishes can leave an odor in the mouth immediately.
Of course, other foods can cause halitosis in a sneakier way, the Foundation warns. Children who don't brush their teeth and floss regularly may start to suffer tooth decay caused by leftover food particles. Sugary drinks like soda and orange juice can also speed this process.
Over time, tooth decay can leave the mouth smelling sour and unpleasant, a condition that requires a dental checkup at least.
The American Dental Association's page for kids adds that bacteria are the source of halitosis's odor. As they multiply, microbes in the mouth need something to eat. They consume dead skin cells, food particles and sugars left behind by meals.
After digesting such stuff, the bacteria then give of waste materials, one of which is a sulfurous gas called hydrogen sulfide, a molecule that makes breath smell very strong. To eliminate this odor, kids and adults alike can rinse with a specialty breath freshening product.