Halitosis, often called bad breath, is a common problem among children and adults. It occurs when noticeably unpleasant odours are exhaled in breathing. Halitosis is estimated to be the third most frequent reason for seeking dental aid, following tooth decay and periodontal disease. In adults, it can be as a result of holes in teeth (dental cavities) in which food particles can collect and decay, causing foul smell. Bleeding gums, too, can cause bad breadth. The intensity of bad breath differs during the day, due to eating certain foods (such as garlic, onions, meat, fish, and cheese), obesity, smoking, and alcohol consumption. The mouth and especially the tongue is the most common location for bad breath due to bacteria on the tongue, which produce substances and fatty acids.
The mouth contains bacteria, which produce many different foul odours. Gum disease and waste products from the anaerobic bacteria growing below the gum-line have a foul smell and produce very bad breath.
Other causes of bad breath include sinus infection or foreign body in the nose, enlarged tonsils, chronic liver, chest and stomach diseases, cancers and diabetes. Saliva helps to cleanse the mouth, thus Xerostomia; a condition with low saliva production causes bad breadth.
If your child does not brush their teeth and clean the tongue frequently, it can result in bad breath. Cleaning teeth should include removing plague that may irritate gums. A toothbrush is an effective tongue cleaner. Tongue scrappers may also be useful.
Mints, mouth sprays, mouthwash or gum, may temporarily mask the odours. Ensure your child brushes their teeth (and cleans the tongue) at least twice a day. Change your child’s toothbrush every three months because dull bristles cannot effectively remove plaque and debris from the teeth. If your child has bad breath, it is recommended that you take him/her to the dentist, who will find out the problem and offer the most relevant remedy.