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Bad breath?:

There can be many causes of bad breath in your child - but always check on dental hygiene first.
By Motherpedia
Date: March 07 2013
Editor Rating:

It is not unusual for a child to wake up with bad breath (known also as halitosis). Throughout the day, saliva washes away unwanted food debris. As soon as a child falls asleep, saliva production decreases. Therefore, the longer a child sleeps, the more bacteria are produced in the mouth, causing bad breath.

However, there are some cases in which bad breath can be a symptom of something more serious.

Causes of bad breath

There are several reasons why a child might have bad breath:

  • Poor dental hygiene – the most most common cause.
  • Mouth-breathing – breathing through the mouth rather than the nose dries out the mouth and allows bacteria to grow. Children who consistently breathe through their mouths might have a cold, sinus infection, allergies, or enlarged tonsils or adenoids blocking the nasal passages.
  • Sucking - if a child sucks on fingers or a pacifier, the object may develop an odour from saliva and bacteria. A pacifier may also have food residue on it.
  • Tonsil stones - collections of food and bacteria that get stuck in the crevices of the tonsils.
  • Cavities or tartar build-up.
  • Sinus infection - other symptoms include a cough, fever, face swelling, or a thick yellow-green nasal discharge.
  • Pharyngitis (throat infection) - child would have a sore throat along with bad breath.
  • Seasonal allergies – can cause postnasal drip. Other symptoms include a dry cough that gets worse at night, itchy eyes, and a runny nose.
  • A foreign object shoved up a child’s nose - if the object is left there, it can rot and cause an infection. The odour will come from the nose and not the mouth.
  • Eating some foods!

Preventing and treating bad breath

Parents should consider the following tips in order to prevent and treat bad breath in young children:

  • Teeth should be brushed two, but preferably three, times a day after meals using a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Dental floss should be used everyday to reduce mouth odour. Young children will need help from parents.
  • Children should eat a good breakfast to stimulate the flow of saliva and reduce oral bacteria. Foods high in fibre are highly recommended.
  • Have child rinse frequently with water and drink plenty of fluids to help reduce dry mouth.
  • Child should consume frequent drinks and snacks throughout the day to provide opportunities for bacteria to be moved around the mouth and flushed away.
  • Treat cold and allergy symptoms promptly to reduce post-nasal drip and prevent mouth breathing.
  • Make sure your child’s hands are washed frequently with soap and water if fingers or thumb are sucked.
  • Sterilise pacifiers or other sucking objects frequently by boiling or running them through the dishwasher.
  • Take your child for regular dental check-ups to make sure that teeth are healthy and clean.

When to see a doctor or dentist

Parents should contact a doctor or dentist if any of the following symptoms appear:

  • If bad breath does not go away within five days after careful dental hygiene.
  • If bad breath is accompanied by a cough that lasts more than 10 days.
  • If bad breath is accompanied by a fever.
  • If there is heavy, green nasal discharge from one nostril—this could be a sign of infection from a foreign object lodged in the nose.
  • If there is bleeding around the gums, visible tooth decay, or a discoloured tooth.
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