Why won’t my child’s bad breath go away? : Evewoman - The Standard

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Why won’t my child’s bad breath go away?

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Dear Doctor,
What can I do to cure my son’s bad breath? I have tried brushing his teeth twice a day without success.


Bad breadth is also called halitosis. It is said to occur when unpleasant odours are exhaled in breathing. It’s common in kids and adults. It is the third most frequent reason for seeking dental aid, following tooth decay and periodontal disease. In adults or older children, 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 breath. 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.

Remember the mouth contains bacteria that produce many different foul odours. Gum disease and waste products from bacteria growing below the gum-line have a foul smell and produce a very intense smell. 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 so low saliva production causes bad breath. If your child does not brush his teeth and clean his tongue frequently, it can result in bad breath. Cleaning teeth should include removing plague that may irritate gums. The tooth brush is an effective tongue cleaner, though tongue scrappers may also be useful, since methods used against bad breath, such as mints, mouth sprays, mouthwash or gum, may only temporarily mask the odours created by the bacteria on the tongue. Ensure your child brushes his teeth (and cleans the tongue) at least twice a day. Change your child’s tooth brush 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, for further check up.

Dr Ombeva Malande is a paediatrics and child health expert

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