Adults are not the only ones that are affected by bad breath – children and adolescents can get it too. The cause of bad breath in young people is usually plaque buildup resulting from poor oral hygiene. Plaque is a thin, clear film of bacteria that tends to develop between your teeth and on your tongue, where it produces foul-smelling volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that are perceived as bad breath. Some foods and drinks can also cause bad breath in children and adolescents. For example, children can sometimes develop bad breath from consuming a lot of milk and other dairy products. Sugary candy, mouth breathing and tonsillitis can also contribute to bad breath in children.
During adolescence children’s bodies go through a lot of changes, some of which can actually affect their breath. Just like fluctuations in hormone levels often cause gingivitis and bad breath during pregnancy, they can change the environment in your teen’s mouth and cause plaque to thrive. Smoking, dieting and drinking sugary sodas are other factors that can contribute to bad breath during the teenage years. Young females may also experience swollen, bleeding and inflamed gums when they start having their period or taking birth control pills, which in turn can trigger bad breath.
The teenage years can be awkward for many reasons, but bad breath does not need to be one of them. As a parent, you can help prevent bad breath in your children by establishing good habits early on and helping them maintain their oral health through puberty. Encourage your child to eat a healthy diet and, if necessary, consider reducing dairy products. Finish meals with a crunchy fruit to help flush out lingering food debris and put a limit on sugary candy. You will need to help your children with toothbrushing until they are able to do it properly themselves, usually around age 7. They should also see a dentist/dental hygienist for a check-up and professional cleaning at least once a year.