Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is one of those things that people don’t know they have unless someone else tells them. It can be caused by numerous factors and is often embarrassing or frustrating. Bad breath in babies, while still caused by many of the same things, can be much more worrisome.
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. 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 for your baby.
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, sometimes into the mouth. Additional symptoms of GERD include pain in the abdomen, nausea, and vomiting. If you think your baby is experiencing these symptoms, be sure their dentist and pediatrician are aware.
Tips for Alleviating Bad Breath in Babies
Pay Attention to Your Baby’s Oral Health: You know what your infant is eating, what they’re putting in their mouth, 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 provider when you see them, and they can help you create a plan of action.
Talk to a Doctor and a Dentist: Regular visits with your doctors are standard during pregnancy and after birth. Your child’s first dental visit should take place after that first tooth appears but no later than the first birthday. Use those opportunities to discuss any health concerns. If your baby has bad breath, talk to their pediatrician and your dentist about what could be the culprit. If left untreated, it could result in more serious issues.
Clean Their Mouth to Avoid Bad Breath: Even before your baby’s first tooth, it’s important to protect their gums and tongue from bacteria as best you can. You can clean their gums with gauze or a soft wet washcloth. Simply wrap the cloth or gauze around your index finger and rub it gently over their gums.
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