Bad breath happens to all of us—even our healthy children—and it can be every bit as unpleasant and embarrassing for them, too. While the food they just ate (think garlic or onions) may be a contributing factor, it’s just as likely that other reasons are to blame for their bad breath blues.

Offering mints or gum might seem like a solution, but it’s a short-term cover up at best. It’s far better to address the actual causes of bad breath.

So what should parents and kids do?

BRUSH OFF BACTERIA AND FINISH WITH FLOSS
Poor or inadequate oral hygiene is the primary cause of bad breath (a.k.a. halitosis). Ask, encourage and require your kids to brush their teeth thoroughly twice a day to remove food debris and plaque. Teach them to brush their tongues, as bacteria can collect and grow here, too. And show them how flossing once daily can help them remove odor-causing particles from between their teeth. Go here for a free printable you can use to inspire, track and reward successful oral hygiene habits.

CHUG-A-LUG
Saliva possesses important anti-bacterial properties. When a body is dehydrated, it does not make enough saliva, which allows bacteria in the mouth to thrive and contribute to germy bad breath. Make sure your kids drink plenty of water throughout the day.

KEEP CALM AND VISIT YOUR PEDIATRIC DENTIST
Although people often think of bad breath as a social concern, sometimes it can be an indication of something else in the body that needs attention, including gum disease, sinus/tonsil infections, acid reflux, and on rare occasions more serious conditions. Schedule at least two appointments per year for each child with your family’s pediatric dentist. In addition to providing a thorough cleaning, your pediatric dentist will watch for potential problems. If your kids are following good oral health practices and bad breath seems to be a consistent problem, be sure to mention it.

LOOKING FOR A PARTNER IN ORAL HEALTH?
Learn more about Dr. Dennis and Dr. Mitch.