Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Bad breath, also called halitosis, can be a big problem in social situations for your kids. But believe it or not, it may be an indication of a more serious condition. Bring up your concerns about your children’s breath with dentist to get a handle on the cause — and possible treatments.

The mouth is home to many species of bacteria, all of which have different nutritional requirements. The bacteria that live in your kids’ mouths digest proteins of different types, so the odor that’s generated comes from the process of those proteins being digested. This process is the root cause of bad breath.

By the Numbers

Studies have been done for virtually every medical condition. Bad breath is no exception. Researchers have discovered that about 40 percent of the world’s population has some form of halitosis. In the U.S., approximately 80 million people have had bad breath at some time during their lives. Fighting it, in fact, has become a $10 billion industry.

Dr. Mila Cohen of True Dental Care for Kids & Teens will tell you that most kids don’t have bad breath all the time. While some people have actual medical conditions that cause their bad breath, it’s more often the result of something your kids ate or from not brushing their teeth.

Smelly History

Halitosis has been a problem in social situations for thousands of years. It’s discussed at length in Jewish religious texts and by both Greek and Roman writers. Islam talks about bad breath in connection to oral hygiene.

There have been many, many folk remedies derived to combat the scourge of bad breath through the centuries. One of the most commonly used substances is labdanum, which is employed throughout the Mediterranean region to freshen breath. Other remedies used by different cultures throughout the years include:

  • Parsley (Italy)

  • Cloves (Iraq)

  • Guava peels (Thailand)

  • Eggshells (China)

In the 1960s, a man named Tonzetich began scientifically researching bad breath and its causes. He and his team determined that halitosis was a byproduct of the digestion of proteins beginning in the mouth.


Common Problems and Causes

In about 85 percent of cases, bad breath comes from the mouth itself. Other sources are underlying conditions, such as a severe sinus infection. The latest research shows that the tongue plays a big part in your child’s malodorous mouth. Certain bacteria that reside on the tongue produce sulfur compounds, which are a prime source of halitosis.

People who have tongues with deep furrows may have a harder time keeping the odor-causing bacteria from accumulating. A coating of bacteria from 0.1 to 0.2 millimeters thick can create the perfect environment for bad breath. If the tongue is the prime source of your child’s bad breath, the best Jersey City kids dentist can tell by comparing the breath from their mouths to the odor from their noses when they exhale.


Saliva and Other Causes


Saliva is another cause of bad breath — or more accurately, a lack of saliva, as low levels during the day contribute to bad breath. Saliva levels are at their lowest in the morning, leading to “morning breath.” The more moist your child’s mouth, the better it smells. When kids eat, they produce more saliva, and chewing cleanses the inside of their mouths. Other sources of bad breath include:

  • A diet that’s unusually high in protein

  • Chronic problems with tonsillitis

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Stress

Uncommon Problems


Dr. Cohen may send you to a pediatrician if the source of the bad breath is something other than the mouth and tongue. After all, mouth odor can be one of the body’s ways of sending signals of an underlying illness. The most easily recognized source, other than the tongue, is the sinuses. If your children have chronic issues with their sinuses — or have recurring sinus infections — they may have a distinct mouth odor that a doctor can recognize. Other conditions that can lead to halitosis include:

  • Bronchial or lung infections

  • Kidney failure

  • Some carcinomas

  • Metabolic dysfunctions

  • Biochemical disorders

  • Diabetes

Most of the time, if your child has bad breath, it’s related to what’s going on in his mouth, not in the other body systems. Other causes add up to only about one to two percent of halitosis cases.


Taming Bad Breath


The standard treatment for fighting bad breath is mouthwash, which provides temporary relief. Another very simple thing you can have your kids do is to drink more water. Keeping the mouth moist with saliva flowing significantly reduces halitosis. Being well hydrated is good for your kids’ overall health too, with the added benefit of keeping their mouths smelling better.

But the best way to prevent and treat bad breath in your child is through good oral hygiene. Your dentist consistently reminds your kids to brush their teeth and floss, but that advice isn’t just to help prevent cavities and caries and gingivitis. One of the best ways to beat bad breath is to brush and floss daily.

Brushing the tongue helps, as well. There are a variety of tongue brushes available. It may take some practice to brush the tongue effectively, especially in the back where most of the odor-causing bacteria live. Dr. Cohen can advise you and your kids about the best brands and styles of tongue brushes to try.


Jersey City Halitosis Advice


Your Jersey City kids dentist may recommend a prescription mouthwash or rinse for your children to use daily. Many people use mouthwash in the morning because of morning breath, but studies have shown that the best time to use it is actually at night before your kids go to bed. This way, the odor-fighting agents in the mouthwash can do their work when your kids’ mouths are at their driest.

Because it may be hard to tell whether everything your kids are doing actually helps solve their halitosis problem, talk to them about it when you smell the sour odor. Remind them about the steps they need to take to keep the smell at bay. It also helps your Jersey City kids dentist to know what time of day or after which meals your kid’s breath is the worst in order to make a better diagnosis and solve the problem.