Bad Breath: Causes and Cures for Your Kid

Filed under: Health & Safety: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Behavior: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Health & Safety: Big Kids, Behavior: Big Kids, Expert Advice: Big Kids, Health & Safety: Tweens, Behavior: Tweens, Expert Advice: Tweens


Dear Karla,
My son is turning 12 this year and I am noticing that his breath is getting foul. I want to do something to make this go away as it would crush me to find him one day embarrassed about it from getting picked on by kids at school, or even with the girls (not that I am ready to see him date). What can I do to help this problem without any type of medication?
Thanks,
Donna


Hi Donna,
This is a touchy subject, as halitosis (also known as bad breath) is not something anyone likes to have. Many parents are often shocked that their child has bad breath, but it is not an uncommon thing. In kids, it can be caused by something as simple as food debris and mucus secretions that accumulated on the tongue, in the nose and in between the teeth. So rule number one - get your child into the habit of brushing after every meal and flossing daily too. This is a great place to start.

Here are some of the common causes of bad breath in children:

  • Tooth decay: Kids don't have to feel pain for their teeth to be decaying, so annual checkups are important.
  • Forgetting to brush and floss twice a day.
  • Mouth dryness: This can be caused by stuffed sinuses or a lack of fluids throughout the day. Saliva is Mother Nature's mouthwash, reducing bacteria and flushing out debris.
  • Post-nasal drip: A condition often caused by allergies.
  • An increase in the amount of protein in a child's diet.
  • Antibiotics: Bad breath can occur in children who have taken antibiotics for a long time.
The bacteria that causes halitosis is a gram negative anaerobe that lives on oral debris and the dental plaque on teeth. The bacteria feeds on sulfur-containing substrates, producing hydrogen sulfide in the process. It is this sulfide that gives off a rotten egg smell. The main odor causing sites in the mouth are the back of the tongue, the areas between the teeth and under the gum line.

Ways to fight bad breath naturally:

  • Teach your children to brush their entire tongue every time they brush their teeth. A soft bristled brush works great.
  • Floss daily to remove any debris in between the teeth.
  • Encourage your child to drink more water and give them things to suck on (watch the sugar content thought), as both increase saliva production.
  • End meals with a crunchy fruit like apples to help wash away debris when no toothbrush is nearby.
  • Pineapple juice is sometimes been effective in removing fowl smell.
  • Mint leaves and parsley are both effective on cleansing the palate.
  • Lemon in water can work for a fast short-term solution

One word of caution is to NOT use alcohol based mouthwashes, as a dry mouth increase the production of bacteria.

Karla Heintz (BSc), is a nutrition educator and national author of 'Picky? Not Me,Mom! A parents' guide to children's nutrition.' She has worked with athletes and families for over 10 years helping them improve their health for a life-time of results.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.