Having a child or teenager with chronic halitosis can be a confusing and worrisome ordeal. After all, we want what is best for our kids, and not only can bad breath can lead to teasing and shame… it can also be a sign of an underlying health issue. If you have noticed that your child or teenager’s breath frequently sour or has a potent unpleasant odor, it is time to take action for the sake of their health and their self esteem.
The most important thing you can do to treat the problem is identify the underlying cause of the bad breath. The most common culprits include the following:
Your Child Lacks a Dental Regimen: Kids eat more sugary foods and tend to have a halfhearted commitment to dental care… they are much more interested in other (i.e. fun) activities. If your child is still quite young, you may need to remind your child of their dental regimen and even enforce or incentive it. Over-see their flossing and brushing… make it fun with cool products or games. For older children and teenagers, communicate openly about the issue, but most importantly, do not shame them. Rather, explain that bad breath can have health and social repercussions and that there are easy ways to avoid the discomfort and embarrassment. The long and short term benefits are worth the small time commitment.
Your Child Needs to See the Dentist: Your child should visit the dentist every 6 months to ensure that the mouth is clear of deeply-lodged debris, tooth decay, gingivitis and infection, all of which can lead to putrid smells.
Your Child is Dehydrated: Super-active kids can forget to drink fluids after rigorous activity. The resulting dehydration can lead to a dry mouth which creates a very hospitable environment for the anaerobic bacteria that causes bad breath. If your child participates in sports or is particularly active, be sure that they have easy access to water. Water is obviously the best choice, but sugar-free, non-dairy beverages are acceptable if your kid is particularly finicky.
Your Child is Taking a Prescription Medication: Some popular childhood prescription medications such as Ritalin and Adderall have been tied to chronic dry mouth, which often leads to bad breath. The best way to deal with this situation is to provide your child with plenty of low sugar beverages and dry mouth products that stimulate salvia product. Dry mouth remedies come in spray, lozenge / tablet and gum forms… let your child try each type and see which one they like best. Kids are surprisingly open to these products. In fact, I have found that some children become quite fond of “showing off” their dry mouth spray.
Your Child has an Undiagnosed Medical Condition: In some instances bad breath can be a sign of an underlying condition such as a bacterial infection in the sinuses or – in some rare cases – diabetes. It is important to report unusual bad breath symptoms to your child’s pediatrician or doctor as it may be an indicator of a more serious issue.
Your Teenager has Physiological Causes: While uncommon in young children, teenagers may have a physiological cause for the bad breath such as larger than normal taste buds or wisdom tooth infections. In most cases of teenage bad breath, it is wise to see a bad breath specialist or doctor. A clinic specializing in halitosis treatment will be able to identify these sorts of issues and create a comprehensive treatment plan for your son or daughter.