Bad Breath in Children and Teens – How to Have the Talk
You lean down to kiss your primary schooler and notice a smell that reminds you of last night͛s dinner, but not in a good way. You put it down to the fact that he probably hasn͛t brushed his teeth but don’t be fooled. Halitosisos bad breath in children can sometimes be a whole lot more than skipping teeth brushing.
The challenge with bad breath in children
When it comes to a child having bad breath, they͛re often the last to realise. And though they might think it͛s funny to joke about, it is a cause for concern. Explaining what can happen if they don͛t address their bad breath is often the best tactic to begin to solve the problem.
The floss test
The most effective way to assess the goings on in your child’s mouth is have them floss and to… smell it. Not a great way to start the day and if there’s a problem it may be deeply unpleasant! This is the best way to get an assessment of your child’s oral hygiene status and to get them to self-assess and manage. Other favourites include lick test͛ for not having to take a whiff of your child͛’s mouth every day. This test will give them some responsibility for checking their breath; they’ll think it͛s grossly hilarious. Forget the method of cupping hands over the mouth, breathing out and taking a sniff. This DIY breath test is unreliable because the air can escape. A more effective way, besides the floss test, is for your child to lick the back of their hand with the part of the tongue as far back as possible. Wait ten minutes for the saliva to dry and then smell it. ͚Mum, my hand stinks!͛ If this is the outcome of the lick test, it͛s time to lay the realities on the table.
Explain why bad breath is bad
It is important to emphasise the realities of having bad breath to children and teens, what it actually is, what happens if it͛s ignored and what they need to do to rectify it.
Bad breath can mean:
- Your child has pieces of food stuck between their teeth because they didn’t brush and floss properly. This could lead to cavities. •Your child has developed a cavity or cavities because of poor dental hygiene. Depending on how far it has progressed, it could cause pain, health issues and cost money to repair. •Your child has a layer of plaque on their teeth due to poor brushing technique.
- Your child has developed a cavity or cavities because of poor dental hygiene. Depending on how far it has progressed, it could cause pain, health issues and cost money to repair. •Your child has a layer of plaque on their teeth due to poor brushing technique.
- Your teen has developed dental cavities due to excess sugary soft drink consumption at the corner store after school and poor dental hygiene. As long as they continue their poor diet and poor dental hygiene, they’ll keep their bad breath and bad teeth! There are other issues out of your child’s control that can cause bad breath such as having a dry mouth, being a mouth sleeper, medication or illness such as sinusitis or tonsillitis.
How children can fix their bad breath
Ensure your child brushes for at least two minutes, twice a day. It͛s a good idea to supervise teeth brushing until the age of seven or eight to ensure they are doing a thorough job. Unfortunately, when left alone, many children only brush for around 45 seconds. All surfaces of the teeth need to be brushed as well as the tongue. Flossing should also be carried out daily to remove trapped food. We have oral therapists at Robert Duhig Dental who are more than happy to give your child a lesson in teeth brushing. It͛s important that you purchase a new toothbrush for your child every three months and schedule regular dental check-ups. Being a good role model regarding food offered will also ensure a healthy mouth and no bad breath due to sugar-induced cavities.
What if my child’s bad breath doesn’t go away?
Sometimes there͛s no apparent reason for bad breath in children. If you’re in this situation, a breath test is a good option. At Robert Duhig Dental, we have a Breath Analyser which diagnoses and treats halitosis or bad breath. It is 100 times more sensitive than the human nose and diagnoses chemical problems in your child͛s mouth and throat. It will help detect bigger dental problems that aren͛t obvious to you and your child.