Your Kid's Chronic Bad Breath May Signal An Underlying Health Problem

Dentist Articles

Adults aren't the only ones who suffer from bad breath. Kids can, and do, get halitosis for a variety of reasons, including poor oral hygiene, infections, allergies, and even creative eating habits (e.g. sticking food up their noses). Most of the time, bad breath is an easily treatable issue that shouldn't cause any concern. However, chronic bad breath that doesn't respond to treatment and has a particular odor may signify an underlying health problem. Here are a few specific odors and what they may mean.

Acetone Breath

If your child's breath has a persistently sweet or fruity smell, it may indicate he or she is suffering from diabetes. This is a metabolic condition where the body does not produce enough insulin to transfer glucose (sugar) in the blood to the body's cells. Starved of this needed energy source, the body begins to break down fat for energy, which produces a byproduct called acetone.

This process is called ketoacidosis and, left untreated, could cause kidney damage and even lead to a diabetic coma. If your child is exhibiting other signs of diabetes such as extreme thirst, blurry vision, increased urination, persistent weakness or tiredness, and rapid weight loss, take him or her to see a doctor right away.

Alternatively, ketoacidosis can also occur if the child is not eating enough carbohydrates. This is typically seen in people who are following high-protein/low-carb diets. If diabetes is not suspected or has been eliminated as the cause of acetone breath, then try adjusting your child's diet to include more carbs.

Ammonia Breath

This type of bad breath will come across as a urine or fishy smell and can be an indicator of either a certain type of urinary tract infection or kidney failure. The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste and toxins from the blood. When the organs become unable to do that due to trauma or disease, those waste products build up in the blood and have a negative impact on the body as a whole. The ammonia odor sets in when kidney problems begin to affect the lungs.

While most urinary tract infections occur in the bladder or urethra, the kidneys can also become infected. The condition is called pyelonephritis and is usually caused by bacteria traveling backwards from the urethra or bladder to the kidneys. Signs of this disease include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Cloudy and particularly bad-smelling urine
  • Back or flank pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Painful urination
  • Urinating more often or with more urgency
  • Confusion

A kidney infection can almost always be treated using antibiotics. Kidney failure, on the other hand, is a more serious issue and may involve extensive treatment. Signs of kidney failure include:

  • Changes in frequency or urination (going more or less)
  • Lost appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Itchiness or numbness in the body
  • Hyperpigmentation of the skin
  • Muscle cramps

Both conditions should be diagnosed by a pediatrician.

Foul Breath

Chronic bad breath that's more foul than typical may indicate a few oral health problems including tonsillitis, gingivitis, cavities, and tonsil stones. Most of these are fairly common childhood conditions that can be remedied with a trip to a pediatric dentist.

Tonsillitis is an infection in the tonsils, the double mass of tissue at the back of the throat. The infection is typically caused by the Streptococcus bug, which causes swelling and inflammation in the tissue. Symptoms include throat pain, loss of voice, white or yellow substance on the tonsils, ear pain, fever, and headache. Treatment typically involves antibiotics, but the tonsils may be surgically removed if they're blocking the airway or causing other health problems.

Gingivitis and cavities are infections in the gums and teeth respectively, and both are typically caused by poor oral hygiene. Gingivitis is the beginning stage of periodontal disease and causes the gums to become inflamed, red, and swollen. Cavities are the result of tooth decay caused by the acid produced by bacteria in the mouth.

Treatment for these conditions will vary depending on the severity of the problem. Typically, the dentist will perform a thorough cleaning to get rid of the plaque and tartar contributing to the gum disease and cavities. Cavities will be filled to prevent further decay, and improving oral hygiene will typically prevent both issues from causing further problems.

Tonsil stones are similar to kidney stones. They form when debris such as food, dead cells, and mucus becomes trapped in folds around the tonsils. Over time, this debris calcifies and hardens. Many of these stones don't cause symptoms or problems. However, sometimes they get so large or bothersome they must be removed. Symptoms of tonsil stones include bad breath, sore throat, pale-colored debris on or near the tonsils, trouble swallowing, swelling of the tonsils, and ear pain.

Sometimes you can remove tonsil stones at home using swabs or picks, but it's best to have a pediatric dentist perform this treatment.

If your child has chronic bad breath, consult with a dentist as soon as possible to determine if there's an underlying problem that must be treated. You can go to sites of local dental clinics to learn more. 


20 April 2015

All About Full and Partial Dentures

My name is Cicely Davenport and if you need to get dentures, but you have questions about them, I invite you to read my blog to learn the answers. I too needed to get dentures but I wanted to find out everything I could about them before I committed. I read all about full dentures and partial dentures, and the difference between each of the two kinds. I went ahead and got a full set of dentures and I really like how they look and feel. I want to help others who are also thinking about dentures and you can learn a lot about them when you read my blog.