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Bad breath is something that can often afflict adults, but did you know children can develop halitosis as well? While bad breath in adults is often down to lifestyle choices, including eating spicy or highly flavored foods and smoking, this is not so likely to be the case for children. The most common cause of bad breath in children is due to plaque building up in the mouth.

Plaque bacteria can soon multiply, especially if a child forgets to brush and floss properly. In addition small pieces of food left trapped in between the teeth can soon begin to rot, causing unpleasant odors. This might be more of a problem if your child currently wears braces, as it’s easy for plaque and food debris to get trapped in between the brackets and wires, and it does require dedication and extra time to keep teeth and gums clean and fresh during treatment.

Children also like to put things in their mouths as this is the way they learn. Items such as pacifiers, hair, toys and blankets can all be rich in bacteria that will grow on the damp surface of the tongue. Some children breathe through their mouth rather than their nose, and this habit can quickly lead to the mouth becoming drier. Saliva is important for keeping the mouth fresh and clean, and a drier environment is perfect for bacteria to breed quickly, increasing the risk of bad breath. Bad breath can also be due to dental diseases, including tooth decay and gum disease, or it may be due to them having a blocked nose as a result of enlarged tonsils or an allergy such as hay fever. Very occasionally bad breath can be caused by reflux which can create additional symptoms. So what can you do if your child has bad breath?

Book a Checkup and Professional Cleaning with Your Pediatric Dentist

If your child is overdue for a checkup then it’s worth booking an appointment with their dentist. The dentist can check to see whether or not their bad breath is being caused by untreated tooth decay or gum disease. A professional cleaning will remove the buildup of tartar and plaque from their teeth, helping their breath to smell more appealing. In addition, the dentist or hygienist will be able to spot any areas of their teeth that aren’t being cleaned properly, and can talk to you and your child about improving their oral health routine. If your dentist can’t find any reason for your child’s bad breath then they may suggest you book an appointment with your pediatric doctor.

Oral Care at Home

Young children do need to have their teeth brushed for them, and even when they’re old enough to brush their teeth themselves it’s still a good idea to closely supervise the process. You can lead by example, and brush your teeth at the same time so they can copy your actions. Alternatively guide their toothbrush with your hands so they can feel the actions they need to copy.

Keep tooth brushing fun through providing them with appropriate tools. An electric toothbrush can clean their teeth more effectively, and a built-in timer is extremely useful for ensuring they brush for long enough. Child oriented toothbrushes help to keep them interested, as do interestingly flavored toothpaste and floss. Let them choose their toothbrush, and their dental floss and toothpaste so they have a real interest in using them. You might want to teach your child to brush their tongue using a special tongue scraper. This is a quick and easy process but helps to remove more of the bacteria that stick to the tongue and which could cause bad breath.

It should be quite straightforward to find out the reason for your child’s bad breath, and to resolve the issue. It is a good idea to take action to find out the cause, and to remedy the problem just in case it is due to untreated disease. Fresher breath can also help improve a child’s self confidence and self-esteem.

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