12 Causes of Bad Breath in Kids (And What to do About It)

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You cuddle together with your child and, when they open their mouths you realize that their breath doesn’t smell pleasant. If this is your first experience of having noticed the smell of bad breath in your child or it’s been a problem for some time it’s not just you as a parent struggling with it. In fact the study from 2014 that was published by The International Journal of Dental Hygiene, 37.6 percent of the participants experienced Halitosis (bad breath), halitosis treatment near me.

As an dental clinic for children in Brooklyn the halitosis issue is a problem we encounter frequently. Parents frequently ask us why is my child’s breath smelling terrible? Should I be worried when my child has a white tongue and smells bad? Is there something my teenager could do to treat their bad breath?

Then we have a solution to your questions! In this article we’ll talk about the most common reasons for bad breath in children and how to eliminate it and the time it should be examined by the dentist for children..

But First…What is Halitosis?

Based on the American Dental Association Halitosis is the scientific term used to describe persistent bad breath. Halitosis could originate in the mouth, or the smell is exhaled by the lung. Bad breath that is persistent (halitosis) as well as acute breath problems, as in morning breath, can be due to a variety of causes.

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What Causes Bad Breath in Kids? 12 Common Culprits


The leading reason for bad breath in children is inadequate oral hygiene. When plaque (the sticky film of bacteria that develops on the teeth) and food particles aren’t cleaned out with regular flossing and brushing, bacteria that live in the mouth will have something to consume. When they eat they release smelly sulfur compounds that are volatile.


Consuming foods that have strong odors can result in your child’s breath becoming unpleasant. Digestive process starts with that initial bite and then whatever food your child is eating is broken down by their mouth, which may create a sour smell.

Foods that produce sulfur, such as onions and garlic are particularly well-known for creating bad breath in children (and adults too). The sulfur compounds make the mouth of your child and even get in their bloodstream. For a long time after eating the compounds will be released whenever your child breathes. It’s a good thing it’s not permanent and nothing to worry about. However, brushing the teeth isn’t going to eliminate it.


Do you has an mouth that is white with bad breath? Another common cause of bad breath in toddlers, children or teens involves the formation of a tongue coat. Food, bacteria and decomposing skin cells are often stuck to the back of your tongue. As you might imagine, these substances do not smell pleasant when they are broken down.

Why would the tongue of a child be white and have bad breath? The appearance of the tongue is due to the gunk that’s stored in between the tiny tongue bumps called the papillae. Cleaning the tongue every time they clean their teeth can help eliminate the bad breath your child has and the white tongue covering.


A tooth cavity, also known as decay could be the cause of the halitosis of your child. In addition to the fact that bacteria responsible for cavities emit odors, but food particles are additionally more likely to be stuck in the damaged area of the tooth. This makes it difficult to clean away and this can cause a heightened stink. Other issues , like gum sores or dental abscesses as they are infections, may cause halitosis as well.


Gum disease is a cause of bad breath among people of all ages including children. What exactly is Gum disease? Gum disease is a condition that causes an infection or inflammation in the tissue of gum that holds the teeth. Although children aren’t most likely to develop periodontitis which is the more severe type of gum disease they can get the less severe kind of gingivitis.

Gingivitis happens when tartar and soft plaque (hardened plaque) build up on teeth and below the gumline. The toxins and bacteria that are in the plaque affect the gums, leading to an inflammation as well as persistent breath smell that does not disappear after cleaning the teeth. The smell of infections is usually unpleasant and gum disease isn’t an exception.


If your child is wearing an amalgam filling or crown that has been damaged or is loose, food particles and bacteria may get stuck beneath it. This isn’t surprising, as it can result in children suffering from halitosis.


We’ve already said it, and we’ll repeat it, saliva is an oral health superpower. Spit is a great way to cleanse food particles and bacteria that accumulate in the mouth. It also neutralizes acids that cause cavities. When saliva flows bad breath is typically avoided.

When kids go to bed, and are asleep the saliva production slows down, and the bacteria that are in their mouths get a chance to grow this is the reason they frequently wake up with breathy mornings. The morning breath can also cause bad breath for babies and toddlers, since every person, regardless of age or how old has bacteria in their mouths. This kind of bad breath is not permanent and will go away when your child cleans their teeth and saliva starts flowing again.

Dry mouth, which is technically known as xerostomia, can also cause bad breath in children. Dry mouth means that there isn’t enough saliva produced. And, like morning breath food particles and bacteria are deposited on the teeth, giving off a foul smell. Contrary to morning breath bad breath caused by dry mouth isn’t always permanent as the condition could be long-lasting and triggered by certain health conditions or medications.


Children with tonsils that are large or tonsils with pits that are deep in their body may discover that their breath is sour. The reason is that tonsils are magnets for bacteria, food, and nasal secretions that accumulate. Tonsilloliths, also known as tonsil stones may also form inside the pits, and emit an odor while they decay.


The presence of bacterial and viral infections like strep throat and strep throat, can cause a foul breath smell inside the mouth. Postnasal drip as kids experience with allergies or sinus infections and is associated with bad breath. The mouth bacteria consumes mucus and secretions that flow into the throat and on to the tongue. Since the bacteria are snacking they emit gases that are not pleasant to smell. The causes of bad breath can be associated with a runny nose, congestion, or fever. See your pediatrician to confirm the diagnosis and receive treatment if necessary.


An investigation that was published by The journal Clinics found a connection between breathing in the mouth and halitosis in kids. The study suggested that the mouth is dry as it’s kept open throughout the night, which causes bad breath the next morning. The breath that you breathe in can be short-lived and can be due to the presence of nasal congestion in children or it may be a regular habit.


Certain medical conditions, such as gastroesophageal and diabetes and thrush, and in some cases problems with kidneys and the liver that can trigger unpleasant breath for children. Although the majority of cases of halitosis do not pose any serious risk however, if other reasons for bad breath are excluded you should discuss the issue to your child’s pediatrician.


Last not least, when concerns what could cause bad breath for toddlers, we need to talk about an object that has gotten trapped in their noses. Babies and toddlers tend to stick food or toys in their noses. should the foregoing body get stuck there, it could cause irritation as well as a runny nose, and the odor of a foul smell. If you suspect your child got something stuck in their nose, and they have a fever as well as mucus that is dark green get medical attention now.

How to Get Rid of Bad Breath in a Child

If your child’s breath is bad it’s tempting to offer them mints or even a breath strip however, they only disguise the issue and aren’t very efficient. It all depends on the root cause the halitosis in your child the following remedies for bad breath and suggestions will work in the majority of cases:

Help children learn proper dental hygiene.

Make sure they brush the teeth two times every day for two minutes at a time, and floss at least once a day. While brushing, make sure your child is cleaning all surfaces of their teeth as well as along the gumline and thoroughly brushing their tongues to get rid of any plaque.

To remove bad breath that is present in infants and young toddlers, you’ll need to perform the flossing and brushing for the children. As preschoolers and older toddlers can start brushing themselves monitor their routine of oral hygiene until approximately age 7 or 8.

Make sure you are eating an energizing, balanced diet.

Also, enjoy sweet treats as well as starchy foods such as chips, but in moderate amounts. The mouth bacteria are attracted by sugars and starches therefore limiting these kinds of food items will make a huge difference in keeping your mouth clean and free of cavities.

Kee keep your child to stay hydrated by ensuring they consume plenty of water.

Water assists in sending plaque, bacteria, and food particles packing. It also fights dry mouth.

Do not overestimate the power of breakfast.

If children consume food and drinks during the early morning hours, it boosts saliva production, which reduces the amount of breath they have in the morning.

Children should chew sugar-free gum containing xylitol following meals and snacks , or anytime their mouths feel dry.

Although this method isn’t among the top ways to treat bad breath for toddlers, it could be beneficial for older children who aren’t likely to swallow the gum or place it in strange spots. Chewing gum increases saliva production in the mouth. This, it’s like an oral bath and removes smelly bacteria. Xylitol is believed to reduce levels of plaque as well as bacteria , and reduce the chance of developing cavities.

Find the source of your child’s breathing.

If you are a person who has a habit of breathing through your mouth, practiced regularly, it could cause a variety of oral health problems as well as bad breath. The dentist who treats children is an expert on oral practices that include breath-taking, and can offer you advice.

Be sure to keep on top of your child’s regular dental examinations and dental cleanings.

The dentist will inspect the gums and teeth of your child to make sure they’re in great form. If your child is wearing restorations like a crown for their teeth or a filling, they’ll examine them as well. If the dentist spots any problems, identifying these issues early will make the treatment less painful and less painful, as well as preventing the development of halitosis. Additionally, during a dental cleaning the hardened plaque is eliminated as well as aids in the department of bad breath as well as in the prevention of gingivitis and dental cavities.

If you suspect that a medical condition or medication is the cause of your child’s breath to smell bad consult their pediatric doctor.

Sometimes, treating the problem can stop the halitosis from its ways. If you suspect that a medication is the cause of bad breath and dry mouth and is making you feel embarrassed about your child, it’s not going to be a bad idea to investigate what other treatment they could try.

When to Call the Pediatric Dentist About Bad Breath in Children

If your child is suffering from teeth pain or has bleeding, red, or inflamed gums as well as bad breath, plan an appointment with your child’s dentist. The child may have an issue with their teeth that requires treatment, like gingivitis or a tooth cavity that needs treatment.

If you experience bad breath that is accompanied by fever and other signs consult your doctor. This is a sign of an infection or illness. such as strep throat require antibiotics to treat.

The majority of the time the problem with children’s breath problems aren’t an emergency. Take a look at our solutions and tips to determine whether your child’s breath improves. If not, let the dentist know when the next visit of your child.

Key Takeaways:

  • Children’s breath problems are typical in children. It may be persistent (halitosis) or it can be acute as in morning breath.
  • The most frequent causes of halitosis among children include poor oral hygiene gingivitis and cavities. It can also result from smelly food mouth breathing or loose dental restorations. dry mouth, inflammations in the mouth, ear or throat as well as certain health conditions and medication.
  • When it comes to ways to eliminate bad breath in children begin by diligently brushing and flossing. Then, you can eat nutritious, well-balanced meals regularly, and having regular exams and cleanings at your child’s dentist. Other ways to treat bad breath include giving your child sugar-free gum, ensuring they are well-hydrated, making sure they don’t skip breakfast making sure they take care of medical issues or dental problems.
  • The majority of instances of bad breath among children don’t indicate anything or a serious issue and can be easily corrected. If your child’s breath persists and doesn’t change even with excellent oral hygiene, talk with your pediatric dentist.

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