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Kids and Bad Breath

Expert Q&A

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Updated January 29, 2005

Q. My son is 4 1/2. His last visit to the pediodontist, the dentist told me that Jacob had a larger percentage than most people of a bacteria in his mouth and to give him gum with xylitol in it. Jacob's breath is horrible! Brushing doesn't seem to help and this morning while helping him to brush, I noticed he has little bumps all over the inside of his mouth. He says that they don't hurt. I just wondered if there was a medical explanation to this. Linda, Alpena, MI

A. The comment about a lot of bacteria in his mouth may just have been an attempt at an explanation for his bad breath...

There are some studies that support the fact that chewing xylitol gum about four times a day can inhibit the growth of bacteria in your mouth and inhibit cavities from forming. Trident for Kids is a sugarless chewing gum made with xylitol, so it may be something for you to try. It also contains Recaldent, a milk derived ingredient, so don't give it to your child if they have a milk allergy.

In addition to dental problems, like gun disease and cavities, there are other things that can cause bad breath (halitosis) though, including:

  • eating certain foods, especially things like garlic and onions
  • postnasal drip from a cold, sinus infections, or allergies
  • mouth breathing, which can lead to your child having a dry mouth, and which can be caused by allergies and enlarged adenoids
If your child's bad breath doesn't improve with better dental hygiene, then you should likely see your Pediatrician for a further evaluation.

An evaluation for the 'little bumps' inside his mouth would also be a good idea.

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