Bad Breath (Halitosis) in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Everybody has bad breath from time to time, especially first thing in the morning.

Many things can cause bad breath, such as missing meals, being dehydrated, or eating foods with a strong odour, such as garlic. Bacteria and plaque buildup in the mouth from food caught between teeth or in dental appliances also may be a cause.

Other causes include throat or mouth infections (such as strep throat), dental problems (such as cavities), or gum disease.

Saliva has a cleaning action that helps reduce or get rid of bad breath. When saliva decreases, bacteria can grow, causing bad breath. This may be especially noticeable in the morning. The flow of saliva almost stops during sleep.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

To help improve your child's breath:

  • Teach your child to gargle with water when he or she is old enough. This is usually around 8 years of age.
  • Teach your child to brush his or her teeth, tongue, roof of the mouth, and gums at least twice a day. Ask your doctor or dentist if your child is ready for fluoride toothpaste.
  • Have your child floss his or her teeth once each day when he or she is old enough.
  • Serve a diet rich in fruits and vegetables every day. Serve less meat.
  • Help your child avoid foods that cause bad breath, such as garlic, onion, or pastrami.
  • Serve regular meals. Dieting or missing meals can decrease saliva and cause bad breath.
  • Have your child drink water, especially if his or her mouth is dry.
  • Have your child remove orthodontic appliances and clean them once each day or as directed by your dentist. Pieces of food and germs can collect on these appliances and cause bad breath.
  • If your child age 6 or older has cavities, ask the dentist if your child should try mouthwash.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if your child has any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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