Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Too Young for Bad Breath?

My two-year-old son has chronic bad breath. My husband and I are worried that there may be some underlying health problem. Should we be concerned?

Answer (Published 6/2/2003)

Reviewed on 3/10/2010

I discussed your question with my colleague, Sandy Newmark, M.D., a California-based pediatrician on the faculty of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. He tells me that bad breath in a child as young as two is unusual and should be investigated. You might take your son to a pediatric dentist first to make sure that tooth decay isn't the problem. A child's teeth are subject to decay as soon as they appear, as early as six months of age. Youngsters should see a dentist for the first time by their first birthday to make sure that no decay is present from a bottle or from nursing.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Energy - If you are a parent or grandparent, you know that abundant energy is vital when it comes to keeping up with the kids. Certain supplements can help keep you energized, naturally - learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor Recommendation.

If your son's teeth aren't the cause of his bad breath, a number of other health problems could be to blame. These include chronic throat or sinus problems, or obstruction from large tonsils or adenoids. Bad breath is sometimes a symptom of a chronic sinus infection, which can be difficult to diagnose in young children. They so often have colds that respiratory symptoms due to sinus infections may be mistaken for the latest bug that's circulating among the toddler set. Your pediatrician should be able to sort through the various possibilities.

If no dental or medical cause turns up, Dr. Newmark suggests eliminating food groups one at a time to see if this makes a difference. The idea is to identify foods to which a child has a specific hypersensitivity or intolerance. Consider the following questions: What foods does the child frequently eat? Are there any cravings or foods that make him feel better? What foods would be difficult to give up or go without? The most common approach is to eliminate all or some of the most common ones that cause reactions in kids: eggs; milk and other dairy products; wheat and other gluten-containing grains; citrus; peanuts; and shellfish. Eliminate each category of foods for two to four weeks and then add them back one at a time to track which ones elicit symptoms. Keeping a food diary is the best way to do this.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here