I often hear the question, “Why do my children have bad breath?”
Our sweet little ones can sometimes have surprisingly powerful breath! In many cases, brushing twice a day and flossing is the simple solution. However, sometimes parents are puzzled when a child with good oral hygiene habits still has bad breath.
Dragon breath, clinically called halitosis, is bad breath that happens for a variety of reasons. Here are the most common causes, along with great remedies for little ones.
Causes of Dragon Breath in kids
Bacteria buildup: The most common cause of bad breath is your children not cleaning their whole mouth regularly and thoroughly. Food particles stay in your mouth and a sticky film of bacteria (plaque) forms on teeth. Plaque can lead to cavities and gum disease, which is associated with bad breath.
Dragon tongue: It is also important to clean your tongue every time you brush your teeth. The tongue can trap bacteria that produce odor.
Tonsil Stones: Bad breath can occasionally stem from small stones that form on the tonsils and are covered with bacteria that produce odor.
Mouth Breathing: When children breathe through their mouth it becomes really dry, and saliva is unable to wash bacteria from the mouth. Sometimes antihistamines or anti-anxiety medications and/or autoimmune diseases can result in a dry mouth too.
Diet: Bad breath can come from an excess of smelly food such as garlic or onion. Acidic, fatty or spicy food that can cause heartburn, as well as a low carb diet can also cause bad breath.
Respiratory and Gastric Problems: Respiratory infections such bronchitis, sinusitis or pneumonia along with allergies and post nasal drips can cause bad breath. Acid reflux (or GERD), can also contribute to bad breath. And the bacteria that cause ulcers, Pylori, triggers bad breath. Bowel obstructions can be a cause too. When the intestine is blocked, feces and fermenting are held in the body, causing breath to smell bad.
Foreign Body: Bad breath can be caused by a foreign body, such as a piece of food, lodged in a nostril.
Other factors that can cause bad breath include health issues like cystic fibrosis, kidney disease (ammonia breath), liver disease (sweet, musty smell) and diabetes (fruity, nail polish smell).
Taming Your Little One’s Dragon Breath
Oral Hygiene Habit Check: Be sure your little one is brushing twice a day, for 2 minutes. If they are under age 8, help them brush and get into those hard to reach areas. Help your children floss once a day, and be sure they are cleaning their tongue with a toothbrush or tongue scraper. Use alcohol free mouthwash as needed. Doing a dental checkup twice a year and staying on top of treatments will also help.
Offer Healthy Foods: Crisp fruits and vegetables are a great way to scrub teeth naturally. Apples, carrots, celery, even fresh broccoli are great! Try to avoid odorous foods like onions or garlic, and food that gives your child heartburn.
Stay Hydrated: Offer your child lots of water throughout the day, especially if they have a dry mouth. Another trick is to chew sugarless gum with Xylitol to stimulate saliva flow. If your child has a severely dry mouth, special mouth rinse or artificial saliva may be needed. Talking with your dentist will help you decide if this is needed.
Give Probiotics: Probiotics encourage good bacteria in your gut to grow, leaving less room for the bad bacteria, which can be responsible for bad odors.
Visit a Doctor: If you suspect your little one has respiratory, gastric, or other issues listed above, contact your pediatrician or our office for an ENT referral, GI referral, Myofunctional therapist, or referral to other medical professionals.
Resolving bad breath usually leads to better overall health and wellness for your child. And there is nothing like the sweet smell of victory that comes from taming your child’s dragon breath! Please reach out to our office if you have questions or concerns about your child’s breath or teeth.
Author: Dr Edee Lin