Bad Breath doesn’t seem like a serious matter, but health-wise it can be. Likewise, psychologically, bad breath can even damage a child’s self-image. After you read this article, you will know-how. Are bullies really capable of picking on your child simply because of bad breath?  Bullies, young and old,  can attack others for any number of small, strange reasons. Bad breath might simply be one that you have never considered. Yes, it’s amazing and a little frightening that children can be so cruel to each other.  But then, adults don’t always provide the best examples.

A Mother’s Story

Poor hygiene is often the cause of bad breath.

Laura’s Story is Not Unique. Bad breath can shame any child.

Laura’s mom reported this experience.  She had just returned home from work, and her babysitter had informed her that Laura was really upset. After paying the sitter, the anxious mother entered her daughter’s little pink room. She found her sobbing 8-year-old daughter lying on her little pink unicorn bedspread and crying as if her heart was broken.  When she saw her mom, little Laura threw herself into her arms.

It took a full 5 minutes to quiet Laura’s hysterical crying enough to get the story.  It seems that after class, two of the girls in Laura’s class began singing: “Laura has stinky breath…Laura has stinky breath.”

The girls followed Laura chanting or singing as they went. Laura finally escaped to the school bus. Through all the hot tears and hugs, Laura’s mother discerned that the bullies did have something to sing about. Her daughter’s breath was terrible. Why hadn’t she noticed such bad breath?

Bad Breath and Social Distress

Dentistry for Children focuses this week’s blog on the problem of children’s bad breath.  We are concerned about both the physical causes and the social distress that affect our children. You probably know that bad breath is also referred to as halitosis.  There is no question that it can be embarrassing even to adults. Thus, it’s no wonder that store shelves are overflowing with gum, mints, mouthwashes and other products designed to fight bad breath.

In 2017, we spent over 815 million dollars to keep our breath smelling sweet. Tic Tac alone, sold over 204 million dollars worth of its tiny candies.

And these dollars include only those products in the breath mint category.  It doesn’t include all the special mouth-washes and other products.  Dentistry for Children now reports that these products are only temporary measures.  And by temporary, we mean they don’t address the cause of the problem, which could be dental.

Hollywood: Romance and Real Life Examples

Self Image Can Reflect Low Esteem With Bad Breath.

Self Image Can Reflect Low Esteem With Bad Breath.

You would think that older professional people would have given up childhood games, particularly the painful ones that we call “bullying.”  Apparently this is not altogether true.  Laura’s older sister could share some shaming games played by adults from her favorite online movie magazines.

Of course, everything is Hollywood is glamorous, beautiful and perfect.  “Every look, every touch, and every kiss is the moment all viewers were waiting for, the chemistry exploding between two actors on screen.”
In an article called, “Celebrities With Bad Breath: 15 Worst On-Set Kissing Stories, we are told that many of the actors like “to dish on one another for some good fun.”  This particular series relates to actors that you would never want to kiss because of bad breath.  And of course, it also shows just how common the problem of stinky breath is.

Sharing Bad Breath with the Stars

“This goddess of a movie star,” Angelina Jolie,  may seem to have it all, including beauty and talent. However, “it turns out that even perfect beings like Angelina Jolie have flaws!”  It was reported that Brad Pitt often teased her by  about “having bad breath.”  In fact, he made jokes and presented her with a “gift of breath mints on Valentine’s Day.”

Even Clark Gable in “Gone with the Wind” was not exempt from being “dished on.”  Vivian Leigh said “Kissing Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind was not that exciting. His dentures smelled something awful.”

Bad Breath is No Joke

Could dental problems cause bad breath in your child?  Doctors and Dentist at an organization called Scary Symptoms. Com tells us that “Bad breath in a child is not normal.”  They also point out that it should not be ignored. Often the cause of this type of problem is relatively simple. However, there are also more serious conditions that could lurk behind this symptom which could need immediate attention.  But there is good news:  modern dentistry can often treat bad breath in children.

Of course, Bad breath can attack persons of any age.  We usually expect that adults are the ones most susceptible.  And it can become chronic.  However, Halitosis is of particular concern when a child is afflicted with it.

Bad Breath in Kids: The Causes

Foods and Bacteria Add to the Risk of Bad Breath.

Foods and Bacteria Add to the Risk of Bad Breath.

Mayo Clinic says most bad breath starts in your mouth.   And there are many possible causes.  They include:

One – Your Personal Air Conditioning System:  The breakdown of food particles in and around your teeth can increase bacteria and cause a foul odor. We all know that eating certain foods, such as onions, garlic, and spices instigate bad breath.

How does this happen?  You probably never thought about it.  The cycle goes like this: You digest these foods. Then they enter your bloodstream. Subsequently, they are carried to your lungs. And finally, the odoriferous foods affect your breath.

Two – Your Dental Hygiene:  What happens if you’re just too busy to brush and floss daily?  Your dentist can tell you that “food particles remain in your mouth, causing bad breath.”  The smell emanating from your mouth gets worse when a colorless, sticky film of bacteria (plaque) forms on your teeth. As you mouth health deteriorates, plaque irritates your gums. Soon, plaque-filled pockets form between your teeth and gums.

Then, your friends smell the odor of infection called periodontitis.  Do not forget your “tongue also can trap bacteria that produce odors.” No matter what your age, uncleaned or poorly fitted dentures or bridges can also harbor evil odors from bacteria and food particles. Even Laura would say emphatically, “Ew!”

Bad Breath in Adults:  The Causes

Protect Your Child. Check Their Breath to Avoid Possible Bullying Problems.

Protect Your Child. Check Their Breath to Avoid Possible Bullying Problems.

Because children grow up to be adults, we at Dentistry for Children, once in a while, widen the scope of our reports to include adults.  Thus we add to the list of causes for halitosis, primarily in older teens and adults:

Three – Tobacco Indulgences:  Smoking causes cultivates a uniquely unpleasant mouth odor. Watch out high school baseball players, oral tobacco can cause problems also.  You see, smokers and oral tobacco users are more likely to have gum disease, and that is another source of bad breath.

And here is a special note to those teens of dating age who consider smoking cool: Non-smokers usually find a kiss from a smoker very disgusting.

Four – Consequences of Dry mouth:   Did you know that saliva helps cleanse your mouth?  This amazing natural substance actually removes annoying particles that create bad odors and breath.  Xerostomia (Zeer–o-STOE-me-uh,) the medical name of this condition leads directly to bad breath. We have all experienced this to a small extent when the mouth dries during sleep.  Chronic dry mouth can be caused by a problem with your salivary glands, some medications, and some diseases.

Bad Breath At Any Age:  The Causes 

Five – Mouth, Nose and Throat Conditions:  Sometimes, amazingly, bad breath emanates from tiny stones in the tonsils. Who knew about these? (Again, Laura would say, “Ew.”)  Such stones exude bacteria, and that is the source of odor that flows with the breath.

Mayo Clinic state, “Infections or chronic inflammation in the nose, sinuses or throat, which can contribute to postnasal drip, also can cause bad breath.”

Six – Other Assorted Villains of Bad Breath:   Diseases like cancer and conditions such as metabolic disorders, brew bad breath. It is a result of the chemicals these conditions produce. We also want you to know that chronic reflux of stomach acids (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) can also initiate bad breath.

Seven – A Strange But True Cause:  Topping the list of “ew” causes for Bad breath in young children would be bad breath from a foreign body.  A piece of food, lodged in a nostril can host a legion of bacteria and thus result in halitosis.  We know of one young lady who actually inhaled a kernel of raw corn into her sinus cavity.

Diagnosis of A Child’s Halitosis

There are sophisticated detectors that can identify the chemicals responsible for bad breath, though these aren’t always available.

So, your dentist will likely smell both the breath from your mouth and the breath from your nose.  Then he will rate the odor on a scale. Because the back of the tongue is often the source of the smell.  Therefore, your dentist may also scrape it and rate its odor. Plus, of course, your pediatric dentist will do a complete dental exam.

Like a detective, Dr. Troy King will search for decay and bacteria which could be the root cause of the bad breath.

Some Treatment Can Be Very Simple

To reduce bad breath, help avoid cavities and lower your risk of gum disease, Dentistry for Children always recommends that you and your children consistently practice good oral hygiene.  At eight years old, Laura needed closer supervision and encouragement to refine her brushing and flossing skills.

Proper Dental Hygiene Solves Most Breath Problems. But Your Child May Need Your Help When Learning Dental Cleaning.

Proper Dental Hygiene Solves Most Breath Problems. But Your Child May Need Your Help When Learning the Proper Method.

Often her mom had to work late and her babysitter needed to be alerted to dental health requirements.  This was good for Laura as well as her pre-teen sister as they both needed help in this simple survival skill.

The heart of Laura’s problem was caries and she needed two big molar fillings.  This was the price of unsupervised dental hygiene and excess sugar consumption.  She was lucky, however, because her mother was very concerned and attended to the problems. We are happy to report that three subsequent check-ups revealed no more cavities and no more bad breath.

Other treatments for bad breath can vary, depending on the cause. Once again, we thank you for visiting our blog.  Please be with us next week when we discuss the details of creating a lifestyle free of halitosis.  Adult or child:  Don’t get bullied for bad breath. Talk to your dentist.