Bad breath in the baby


Babies and toddlers are usually treated in the same way as adults in the case of illnesses and their symptoms. The organism works the same way. With the exception of a few different factors such as diet, exercise or personal hygiene.

Of course, odors can also escape from any body opening in the baby. Babies don't always smell of that delicate, cute baby odor. What is often noticeable in addition to the diaper smell is a bad stench from the mouth. This is often sweet, like sugar. What is of course more noticeable is when the breath smells sour, almost pungent.

What causes bad breath and how can it be treated?

Causes of bad breath in the baby

  • Probably the most common cause of bad breath is breaking through of milk teeth. During the time the baby is teething, their eating habits can change. Because of the pain that occurs, it may refuse some foods. This can change the composition of the saliva and thus also its smell.
  • It is important to brush teeth that have already erupted with toothpaste during this time to protect them from tooth decay. It is important to use toothpaste to clean your mouth, not just water. Because adults who only wash themselves with water and not with soap will smell a bit over time.
  • That is why you should always brush your tongue when you brush your teeth. If there is a white coating on the tongue that cannot be wiped off, one speaks of Tongue thrush. With regular tongue cleaning, this would be recognized at an early stage.
  • Another harmless reason is when the baby has not drunk enough. The mouth is then very dry and the saliva is acidic. This sour smell is then noticeable. On the other hand, bad breath is also noticeable in connection with too much saliva. Probably just because of the amount of saliva, which also has a strange smell.
  • If the little ones drink or eat too early, too much sweetened food, the pH value of the saliva changes towards acidic.
  • In young children who already have teeth, the bad breath could also come from teeth that have been destroyed by caries.
  • Inflammation or infection of the oral mucosa should not be ignored. With tonsillitis there are always strong smells that can escape through the mouth.
  • If left untreated, congenital diabetes can also result in an acetone-smelling odor.

Accompanying symptoms of bad breath in the baby

A noticeable symptom is pain. At least the little ones express their discomfort by screaming. If you experience pain and bad breath, they may refuse to eat or drink. The infected oral mucosa is particularly sensitive to touch. Redness in the mouth can be observed in connection with inflammation of the oral mucosa.

Many small canker sores can also spread in the mouth. These are mostly whitish blisters that are surrounded by a red border.

With tonsillitis, the tonsils are swollen red. When the mouth is open, they are already visible in the throat. The lymph nodes can also be swollen. It is important to observe not only the lymph nodes in the neck region, but also those located further away.

With sore throats, the immune system is weakened and a fever can occur. This is a defense reaction of the body, but also a sign that there is an infection. In the case of poor nutrition, because, as described above, there is no appetite, gastrointestinal complaints can also occur.

Diagnosis of bad breath in babies

However, it is important to investigate why the baby suddenly smells stronger. The thrush on the tongue described above is an infectious disease caused by a fungus. The baby cries more often because of the itching and possible pustules.
Read more about this at: Oral thrush

Babies also cry when they are teething, but you don't see the white, non-washable coating on the tongue. When the teeth break through, you can feel with your thumb on the crest of the bone whether you can feel a firmer place. Further on, a small thickening or mound forms. It is also surrounded by white colored gums.
A sore throat should be diagnosed and treated by a pediatrician.

What to do about bad breath in babies

If the symptoms persist, you should urgently consult a pediatrician. Above all to rule out an illness. If you are sure that the cause is the eruption of the milk teeth, a visit to the dentist is not worthwhile. The smell will go away on its own.
Since small children cannot spit out yet, they are not allowed to use mouthwashes or the like. One easy way that can reduce the odor is through oral hygiene. Parents brush their teeth twice a day. One should already use toothpaste with young children. Children's toothpaste with a lower fluoride content is best.

Find out more about proper dental care at: Dental care in the baby

How long does bad breath last in the baby?

The duration depends entirely on the cause. If your mouth smells like eating or drinking, you can quickly neutralize the smell by brushing your teeth. However, if the cause is teething, it can take longer for the child to smell “normal” again. In addition, each child's teeth break through at different rates. There is also no indication of how long such a breakthrough will last.

If the odor comes from a sore throat or tonsillitis, it should go away with the inflammation.
If the odor remains, even if the cause has supposedly been combated, you have to think about another reason and have this confirmed by the doctor. Thus, a more serious disease can be discovered and contained.

Bad breath when teething

Not every baby has to smell out of their mouth when teething. Nevertheless, it is the case that saliva production is stimulated when teeth erupt. Because more saliva can hold more bacteria, the saliva can smell unpleasant as it absorbs all bacteria from the mouth. The bacteria feel particularly comfortable in a warm and moist mouth and multiply quickly. The degradation and metabolic products of the bacteria cause the bad smell.
Teething is not a dangerous inflammation, but the oral mucosa reacts irritably to the fact that a tooth is pierced from below.

You might also be interested in: Teething in the baby

Sour bad breath in the baby

Babies in particular are more likely to vomit after eating or drinking milk. Some stomach acid always comes back through the esophagus into the mouth. The path between the stomach entrance and the oral cavity is very short in small children. If the muscle at the stomach entrance is not yet that strong, there is increased reflux through the esophagus. When lactose is broken down, lactic acid is produced with a sour smell. This means that in the “peasant”, the milk that has already been thickened comes up again.

If the mucous membrane of the mouth or throat is inflamed, or if there is tonsillitis, a putrid, acrid waste product of dead immune cells is created, which can also lead to a sour odor.

Saliva can also smell sour if its pH value is too low. This is especially the case if you haven't drunk enough or eaten too many sweets.

Sweetish bad breath in babies

This smell can be compared with overripe, already slightly rotten fruit. The cause for this can be quite harmless, namely because the composition of the saliva changes. If you change your eating habits, the composition of your saliva also changes. Depending on what and how much you are of something, your saliva smells differently. However, one should not ignore the bad breath.

If the sugar level in the blood is too high, what is known as ketoacidosis can develop. The hormonal balance gets out of control and an acrid smell develops over the breath. This is particularly common in people with a lack of insulin. To rule out diabetes, you should therefore consult a pediatrician or a dentist who specializes in children. It is therefore important to keep babies and children away from additional sugar and sweets for as long as possible.

Baby smells like acetone from mouth

The smell that smells of nail polish remover is most common in babies with type 1 diabetes. It is called juvenile because it already appears in young children. The disease breaks out because the body doesn't produce enough insulin. The sugar level in the blood is not regulated and continues to rise. This sugar is gradually converted into fats. Since the liver can no longer handle these fats, so-called ketone bodies are formed. These are released outside through the lungs and mouth.
More about this under: Diabetes in children

However, diabetes does not necessarily have to be present. It is also possible that blood sugar levels are derailed for other reasons. For example, children shouldn't be consuming much more calories and energy than they are consuming. It is therefore advisable to go to the doctor if there is a smell if the children are on their feet and frolic all day despite not eating much.