Bad breath in toddlers happens primarily when the toddler is suffering from congestion severe enough to prevent him or her from breathing normally through the nose. Stuffy noses directly influence the severity of bad breath in toddlers because of dry mouth conditions resulting from children routinely breathing through their mouths instead of their noses.
This promotes anaerobic bacterial growth, lack of saliva flow and oxygen, and excessive mucus that lies in the throat. All of these elements are conducive to the proliferation of bacteria that excrete foul-smelling compounds called volatile sulfurous compounds, or VSCs.
Toddlers who go to daycare are especially prone to bad breath because of day to day contact with other small children who carry respiratory viruses that cause congestion, sore throats and post nasal drip.
What is Oral Anaerobic Bacteria?
Oral anaerobic bacteria thrive on consuming proteins found in food debris and mucus left in the mouth. The waste produced by these bacteria after breaking down proteins creates sulfur compounds that smell like rotten eggs or even decaying meat. Specifically, amino acids called cysteine and methionine are converted into hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan, two extremely odorous substances that can make a toddler's breath smell bad.
Another common reason for toddlers to experience bad breath is if a small foreign object becomes lodged inside one of the nasal passages and obstructs their ability to breathe. When this happens, the child will simply choose to breathe through his mouth since he is not old enough to understand what occurred. Mothers who notice a healthy toddler breathing through his mouth may want to check his nasal passages for an obstruction.
Lack of Good Oral Hygiene
Improper brushing is another major culprit of bad breath in toddlers. Most young children dislike having their teeth brushed, which makes it difficult for mothers to remove food debris between teeth and at the gumlines. These leftover particles stimulate bacterial growth as well as bad breath, cavities and tartar buildup on baby teeth. Even though toddler teeth are temporary, regular dental checkups are extremely important to the future health of a child's permanent teeth and gums. If baby teeth are lost prematurely, the unoccupied space may cause emerging teeth to shift and grow in at abnormal angles.
Repeated bouts of tonsillitis accompanied by bad breath in toddlers may indicate the presence of tonsil stones. Tonsil stones, or tonsilloliths, are tiny, white specks of calcified mouth debris that become embedded in tonsil fissures. Comprised of food particles, mucus and billions of anaerobic bacteria consuming proteins and excreting VSCs, tonsillolith produce exceptionally bad breath, especially if accidentally bitten and crushed open.
Tonsil stones can be dislodged using a Q-tip or toothbrush but it is easier to simply prevent them from forming in the first place by practicing good oral hygiene. TheraBreath® offers tonsil stone kits and sprays that help remove, treat and prevent tonsil stones.
Your child may be suffering from tonsillitis and/or tonsil stones if he complains of:
- Difficulty swallowing small bites of food
- Chills and fever
- Sore throat
- General malaise
- Tenderness around the back of the jaw and throat
If tonsillitis is viral in nature, doctors generally prescribe rest and giving the child pain relievers. Alternatively, bacterial tonsillitis can be treated with antibiotics. However, tonsil stone formation remains unaffected by antibiotics and increases according to how often tonsillitis strikes the child.
Why Some Over the Counter Oral Hygiene Products are Unsafe for Toddlers
Besides improving brushing techniques, what should you do for correcting bad breath in toddlers? If you are considering using over the counter mouthwashes or toothpastes, make sure you know what ingredients you are putting into your child's body. The majority of brand-name oral health products contain unnecessary, abrasive substances potentially harmful to the mouth as well as the body. For example:
- Alcohol used in many mouthwashes acts as masking agent only and will worsen bad breath because it promotes dry mouth conditions. Chemically, alcohol is considered a "desiccant" that shrinks moist tissues and decreases saliva flow in the mouth, creating the perfect environment for anaerobic bacteria growth.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate is another ingredient found in toothpastes that produces foam to make consumers think the product is actually "working" to whiten teeth and freshen breath. Sodium lauryl sulfate is also incorporated in shampoos as a foaming agent. Extensive testing with this substance has shown that SLS may promote the appearance of canker sores and abrade oral tissue. Shedding of this tissue creates a protein food source that anaerobes love to consume.
- Saccharin and other sugar substitutes are put in children's toothpaste as a taste enhancer and provides no benefits to oral health.
Safe Oral Hygiene Products for Toddlers
The safest and most natural toothpastes, mouthwashes, breath gums and tonsil stone prevention products for toddlers and children are made by Dr. Katz's TheraBreath line of superior oral hygiene products. Containing no alcohol, SLS or saccharin, these products target bad-breath-causing bacteria by blending together natural ingredients consisting of:
- Whole leaf aloe vera (strengthens gums)
- Sodium fluoride (effective at fighting tooth decay)
- Tea tree oil (has antibacterial and antifungal properties)
- Dr. Katz's own OXYD-8 (chlorine dioxide) a stabilized ingredient that begins oxygenating the mouth immediately upon contact with a dry mouth.
Using TheraBreath products to neutralize sulfurous oral bacteria and improve the health of your toddler's mouth is a safe, natural and effective way to freshen your child's breath and keep his baby teeth strong and white. In addition, TheraBreath's Tonsil Stone Starter kit contains all the products necessary to eliminate tonsil stones painlessly and prevent them from returning. Also try TheraBreath's PLUS Oral Rinse for your toddler's bad breath, which contains zinc gluconate, a mineral that inhibits production of sulfur emitted by anaerobic bacteria.