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Bad Breath in Babies and Young Children

12 Nov, 2015

Bad Breath in Babies and Young Children

Bad breath can happen at any age, including during infancy. The biggest trigger of breath odor problems is insufficiently good oral hygiene, but this is unlikely to be the cause in a child. If your baby is suffering from halitosis, there are several possible causes you should consider, which will help you determine how to cure the problem. If none of the triggers below seem to fit your child's situation, make an appointment with their doctor just in case there is an underlying medical cause which needs to be addressed.
It is normal for a child to develop a bit of a dry mouth if they are unwell and have become a bit congested. Since saliva helps neutralise mouth odor, a dry mouth can lead to a rise in the level of bacteria, bringing with it an unpleasant odor. If your child is unwell, keeping them hydrated will not only benefit their health but help counteract a halitosis problem. Once they are feeling better you should find their breath normalises too.
A dry mouth can also happen as a result of breathing through the mouth while sleeping, which is a common problem amongst infants. If you think this cause fits your child, see if their breath problem is only in the morning. If it is only 'morning breath', you should not notice an unpleasant odor after they have had their breakfast or first feed of the day. However, if the odor is still noticeable after they have had something to eat or drink you will need to consider another cause of your baby's breath problem.
If your baby has a pacifier, ensure it is regularly sterilised and changed. Repeat exposure to saliva can eventually cause the pacifier to develop a nasty smell and bacteria can enter your baby's mouth. Thumb sucking infants are also more at risk of breath problems due to an increased risk of bacteria entering the mouth. To reduce the likelihood of your baby developing a problem, wash his hands frequently.
For mobile infants, a reason for sudden bad breath might be the presence of a foreign object lodged in their nose. If the parent did not witness the child doing it they may not realise there is a problem till the foreign object causes an infection in the nasal cavity, and the infection causes halitosis. Another sign to look for is if the child's breath seems slightly impaired, as it would be if they had a cold, but there are no obvious signs of illness. Doctors are used to seeing young children who have inserted small items (such as a tiny piece of a toy) into their nose, and once the item has been removed they will be able to prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.
The final possibility for your baby's bad breath is an allergy, such as sinusitus, or a medical condition such as severe reflux. Once the underlying problem has been identified and treated, halitosis should no longer be a problem.


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