Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be one of those things that people don’t know they have unless someone else tells them. It can be caused by a number of factors and is often embarrassing or frustrating.
But bad breath in babies, while still caused by many of the same things, can be much more worrisome. With diet and oral care completely out of their control, managing and alleviating infant bad breath obviously falls on the parents.
Causes of Bad Breath in Babies
Diet —Consuming smelly food items can change the odor of your baby’s mouth. Just like when you eat garlic or drink coffee, what your child ingests plays a role in their oral health. Foods high in sugar and starches are more likely to give your child bad breath. And just like with adults, onions and garlic will also result in some stinky smells. Starches made from white flour are simple carbohydrates and can linger in the mouth and then break down into simple sugars. Bacteria feed on these sugars and produce acid, which causes tooth decay. Avoid giving your child crackers or chips them throughout the day and check the levels of starch in their formula.
Also, any food particles left in the mouth after feeding—whether it’s milk or formula or otherwise—can cause the formation of bacteria. This can lead to stinky baby breath or worse oral health problems.
Dry Mouth —Breathing through the mouth, particularly during sleep, can lead to bad breath. It eliminates mouth-friendly saliva and, ultimately, the buildup of bacteria. This occurs naturally, though other conditions like colds or nasal congestion can exacerbate the situation.
Illness/Allergies – Colds, illnesses and even allergies can lead to inflammation. Inflammation in the mouth can lead to bad breath. Sinus infections or nasal blockages can cause bad breath in infants.
GERD – Gastroesophageal reflux disease is another condition that can result in bad breath. It causes stomach acid to rise into the esophagus and sometimes into the mouth. Additional symptoms of GERD include pain in the abdomen, nausea and vomiting. If your baby experiences these symptoms, be sure your dentist and your doctor are aware. Looking for a dentist in your area? Click here!
Tips for Alleviating Bad Breath in Babies
Pay Attention to Your Baby’s Oral Health — You know what you’re feeding your infant and when something doesn’t seem right. It’s important to pay attention to and note any signs of change in your baby’s oral and overall health. This will help you discover the root of the problem. Share this with your baby’s pediatrician and dentist and they can help you create a plan of action.
Talk to a Doctor and a Dentist — Regular visits with your doctors and dentists are standard during pregnancy and after birth. Use those opportunities to discuss any health concerns. If your baby has bad breath, talk to the pediatrician and your dentist about what could be the culprit. If left untreated, it could result in more serious issues.
Clean Your Baby’s Mouth Regularly—Your infant lacking teeth isn’t an excuse to neglect their oral health. Between food, fluids and pacifiers, a lot ends up in your baby’s mouth. It’s important to protect them from bacteria as best as you can, which means cleaning their gums and even tongue. Try gently wiping these areas with a moist, soft toothbrush or washcloth after feedings and make sure to head to baby’s first dentist appointment after the first tooth shows up.
For more tips on oral health and your child, click here!