Bad breath in babies
SUMMARY: Halitosis in toddlers can occur for a mouthful of reasons. Learn how to get rid of it!
Posted: October 17, 2013
Although bad breath is less common in toddlers than adults, it can still occur in your little tot's mouth. It may be brought on by a number of factors, though it is easy and painless to get rid of.
First off, why do toddlers seem to get bad breath less often?
Since babies don't have many teeth (the full set of primary teeth usually appears at around 2.5 years of age), there are fewer nooks and crannies for food particles and plaque to get stuck in. When these things interact with the natural bacteria in the mouth, foul odors are produced.
Another reason is that tiny tots are champions of saliva. At a very young age, they haven't learned to swallow their spit yet, so they tend to drool like crazy. The natural lubricant helps rinse out bacteria from the mouth to keep it clean.
In breast milk, phagocytes, or white blood cells, fight off the bacteria and foreign particles that cause oral odor.
What are the biggest causes of bad baby breath?
One of the leading culprits for bad breath in toddlers is a dry mouth. More often than not, the mouth loses moistness while your infant has a stuffy nose and has to breathe through his or her mouth. Lack of saliva presents a habitable environment for anaerobic bacteria, which packs cringe-worthy sulfuric compounds.
Along those same lines, an illness, sinus infection, seasonal allergies or tonsillitis can plug up the nose and affect inhaling and your child's breath. Odors will dissipate as the body works through the ailment.
Once your child's teeth start growing in, cavities may both bother him or her and become responsible for the halitosis. A dirty mouth never smells good.
A foreign object could also trigger the odor. Tots love to put things in their mouth and nose, so you might find anything from a tiny toy to a pea.
What's the best way to get rid of halitosis in infants?
Good oral hygiene! When your toddler is a few months old, you can clean his or her gums after a meal. Toothpaste is not required quite yet. As soon as the first tooth emerges - around the four-month mark - you should start brushing their teeth twice each day. Dentists recommend that you start with a soft baby toothbrush to provide relief to the tooth and gums. Additionally, make sure you use toothpaste with a very low fluoride level, as too much of the anti-cavity substance can actually be harmful. Look on the packaging for 1000 parts per million of fluoride for children under the age of three.
Find a time that fits your early routine, and get in the habit of brushing their teeth in the morning. After your baby has had his or her last drink at night, brush before bed.
Since your little nugget likely enjoys sucking on thumbs or fingers, make sure you wash your baby's hands frequently with soap and water.
When they're still at the pacifier age, ward off germs and bacteria that can accumulate on it by running it through the dishwasher.
How to brush?
Use a dot of toothpaste until he turns two, and a pea-size amount before his fifth birthday. Gradually teach him how to brush his own teeth by allowing him to hold the handle along with you.
If you're having a hard time finding the right angle to clean, try placing him on your lap, facing away from you. This will help you reach his teeth.
Brush with small, circular movements. Keep in mind that while your infant is teething, his gums will feel sensitive, so be gentle. You'll want to focus on the area where the gums and teeth meet.
Kick the stinky anaerobic bacteria by cleaning your child's mouth frequently and visiting the dentist before problems start. That little smile on their faces will make it all worth it!