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1. A-Z

 

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2. Subject Questions and Answers

Halitosis or Bad Breath in Children

  1. Can inadequate oral hygiene cause bad breath in children?
  2. Can halitosis be a symptom of a disease or infection?
  3. My child is prone to colds. Can this be the cause of halitosis?
  4. Can gingivitis cause bad breath?
  5. Can dental caries cause halitosis?
  6. Will a mouthwash help?
  7. I've seen tongue scrapers advertised. Are they a gimmick?
  8. Should I consult the dentist about my child's bad breath?

 
1. Can inadequate oral hygiene cause bad breath in children?

  • Inadequate oral hygiene is probably the main cause of bad breath in children.
    Food left on and between teeth begins to decompose, and starts to smell:
    • Food protein is broken down into bad-smelling sulphur gases.
    • The protein breakdown can take place on the surface of the tongue, and in and around the gums.
      This is the work of bacteria, which are normally present in the mouth.
    • Plaque left to accumulate on the teeth causes gingivitis, which can also be a cause of halitosis.
  • Thorough brushing of teeth twice a day after meals, and flossing once a day are essential to dental health.
  • Disclosing tablets can indicate how well the child is brushing.
    • The tablets stain the plaque left on the teeth a bright pink colour.
    • They are used after brushing to show precisely where the plaque is.
    • Further brushing of the stained areas is needed, until the pink stain is removed.
      This will confirm that all the plaque has been brushed away.
    • Disclosing tablets or solutions should be an integral part of tooth cleaning.

See Oral Hygiene

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2. Can halitosis be a symptom of a disease or infection?

  • Yes, it can. The following are accompanied by bad breath:
    • Infections of the mouth, nose and throat, such as tonsillitis.
    • Stomach infections, such as a gastritis.
    • Diabetes, if uncontrolled, produces a distinctive acetone smell.
    • Treatment will be prescribed by your medical doctor.

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3. My child is prone to colds. Can this be the cause of halitosis?

  • Colds can cause halitosis, as they can be accompanied by a post-nasal drip.
  • Mouth breathing is common with a cold. It causes the mouth to dry, and can cause the breath to smell.
  • A sugar-free chewing gum can be used to stimulate the flow of saliva, and lessen the dryness that may be contributing to the bad breath.

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4. Can gingivitis cause bad breath?

  • Gingivitis is known to cause halitosis. This brings us back to good oral hygiene.
    • The best way to prevent gingivitis is to brush and floss regularly.
    • Help your children to achieve efficient and regular tooth cleaning habits.

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5. Can dental caries cause halitosis?

  • Any decaying material smells, and this is also true of teeth.

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6. Will a mouthwash help?

  • There are many mouthwashes available for daily use as part of a good oral hygiene programme. They can freshen the breath.
    • Some mouthwashes simply disguise the smell of halitosis temporarily.
    • An anti-bacterial mouthwash may help to destroy the bacteria in the mouth, which cause the breath to smell.
  • Ask your dentist to recommend a mouthwash if your child has bad breath.

See Mouthwashes

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7. I've seen tongue scrapers advertised. Are they a gimmick?

  • Tongue cleaning is a method of removing food particles, white or coloured coatings, and bacteria, from the surface of the tongue.
  • Tongue cleaners are recommended for scraping the surface of the tongue. This is where bacteria can convert protein food particles into bad-smelling sulphur gases.
  • A post-nasal drip and a cold can cause coating of the surface of the tongue.
  • The coating may be quite thick and contributes to halitosis.
  • Tongue scrapers are designed to remove the coating from the tongue.
  • They are easy to use and come in different sizes for adults and children.
  • Ask your dentist to advise you as to whether a tongue scraper is suitable for your child.

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8. Should I consult the dentist about my child's bad breath?

  • Yes, you should. The dentist should be able to find the cause of the halitosis.
  • If tooth decay is the cause, the caries will be removed, and the tooth filled.
  • If the cause is not in the mouth, you will be referred to your doctor.
  • Twice-yearly visits to the dentist are part of your essential programme of dental care. It is at these visits that all matters relating to oral health can be discussed.
  • If your child's home-care dental programme is not working well enough, your dentist will be able to advise you how to improve it.

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