Bad Breath in Children

Bad Breath in Children : Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Bad breath which is also known as Halitosis, mostly occurs in children due to poor oral and dental care as well as dental caries. Little bit bad breath issue after your child wakes up in the morning is normal which usually goes away once your child cleans his or her teeth or after eating or drinking something.

However consistent bad breath issue that persists for longer duration and in most part of the day is no way a good sign of health and it requires proper dental care and treatment if your own self-care measure doesn’t work positively. Whatever may be the causes of bad breath in children, it must not be ignored in any condition.

Mostly the bad breathing issue gets relived by improving your oral and dental care habits like two-time brushing, flossing, rinsing mouth after each diet intake, etc. However in certain cases even after the improvement of your oral care and hygiene habit, doesn’t bring any successful changes or result.

In such cases, the chances exist that there are some underlying issue or health concerns that are reflecting its symptoms in the form of bad breath in your child. Some common conditions that can cause bad breath problem in your child include chronic sinusitis, cold, and allergies that create mucus in the nasal zone, respiratory infection, digestive disorder, diabetes, liver and kidney diseases.

Bad breath is embarrassing conditions which can even develop many severe mental health concerns if persist for longer duration like social withdrawal, anxiety, and stress. So in this article today we will analyze elaborately what are those particular concerns that can cause bad breath problem in your child, its symptoms and available treatment measures.


Table of Contents

Bad Breath in ChildrenApart from bad oral care or hygiene which is the most common reason behind the bad breath issue in children there are many underlying small to major health concerns that can easily develop this condition. Below we have enlisted the most common causes of bad breath in children

Foreign Objects

If your child is quite good enough in maintaining regular oral and dental hygiene habit then this could be the most probable reason that is causing bad breath problem in your child. Usually, kids are very curious by nature that leads them to know about everything.

And in this series of exploration and curiosity, they often lodge something in their nostrils such as a toy accessory, little beans, beads, etc. When any object gets lodged in the nostril it creates a very unpleasant smell thereon leading to bad breath problem.

So if this is the reason behind the bad breath problem in your child you must consult with a doctor without delaying to remove the said stuck objects from the nostril to remove its associated bad smell or breathe issue permanently.

Dry Mouth

Children who are quite active in their physical level often get a victim of dry mouth issue which leads to bad breath problem in them. In the lack of proper fluid in the mouth area the odor-causing bacteria growth increases that cause persistent bad breath problem in the affected child.

On the other hand, kids who drink enough amount of water or other fluid intakes their mouth can easily produce saliva that helps in washing away all the bacteria responsible for the odor in the mouth. Another issue associated with less amount of saliva in the mouth is that it can cause other dental health concerns along with bad breath such as cavities formation, tooth decay, etc.

Sinusitis Infection

If your child has affected by a sinus infection then the chances will remain quite high that he or she will develop the bad breath oral health issue. If your child complains about sore throat and nostrils then don’t avoid it at all as it can be a sign of sinus infection.

As a result of this infection, fluid get accumulated in the throat and nasal passage hence creates a favorable environment for odor-causing bacteria to gather in that particular area. This leads to a stinky breath problem which could not be relieved even after brushing with toothpaste or mouth wash application.

A persistent sinus infection must be consulted with a doctor to get the prescribed medications such as antibiotics, otherwise, it will not relieve on its own and its associated bad breath problem in your children will remain as it is.

Gum Diseases

If your child’s bad breath issue occurs due to certain gum diseases like infection, tooth decay, etc then it will not be relieved even after improving your daily oral and dental hygiene care. In these cases, medical assistance is a must in order to get rid of the bad breath problem permanently.

Any gum related health concern like cavities, mouth sores, an oral infection can easily secrete odorous smell. In such cases simple brushing and flossing will not relieve the issue the necessary treatment will be the only option in this case.

For example, if your kid has tooth decay or cavity issue then only a dentist can cure the said condition. Same is applicable for other kinds of gum diseases as well and it’s associated bad breath problem.

Infected Tonsils

If your kid’s tonsils are infected or inflamed then it can cause bad breath problem to them along with other symptoms of an infected tonsil. A healthy tonsil looks pink and fully clean. Whereas an infected tonsil looks red, inflamed along with white spots over them.

In the cases of the inflamed tonsil, bacteria can easily gather in the pits or deep grooves of these tonsils. Also often foods stuck in these pits which creates a very nasty smell with time. The collected bacteria in the pits of said inflamed tonsil develops sour smell which further causes bad breath issue.

If you see the symptoms of infected tonsil in your children then make them diagnose with a pediatrician as they can only prescribe a right medication such as an antibiotic. Once the tonsil gets relieved and turns to its original healthy condition its associated bad breath problem will also disappear.

Poor Dental and Oral Hygiene

Poor dental and oral hygiene is one of the most common reasons behind the bad mouth odor in children. Here parents ignorance towards their children daily oral or dental care routine plays a major role.

There are several children who resist brushing during the day time. Also, there are many little kids whose parents leave their dental and oral hygiene responsibility on the kid’s shoulder itself. This probably because parents have no enough time and patience to get messy with their kids at the very morning time.

As a result of it, oral and dental care activity is not done in the way as it should be. Apart from this one very common scenario that gives birth to mouth odor in children is the stickiness of food residue at different parts of the mouth which further get a victim of microorganism activities leading to the generation of bad breath.

When any food particles get stuck in the surfaces of teeth, spaces between gums and teeth, in grooves and in tongue pores, it requires to be cleaned thoroughly. Otherwise, after some time it can create different dental health concern along with the bad breath issue such as decay in teeth surfaces, between teeth areas and even decay in an old restoration.

Mouth Breathing Habit

Kids who usually breathe through the mouth during the night time or snores during nights easily develop the bad breath oral health concern. This particularly happens because when you breathe through mouth your saliva gets evaporated with the open contact of the outer atmosphere.

Along with the loss of normal level of saliva in the mouth its ability to wash of odor-causing microorganisms reduced hence the microorganisms in your mouth multiply at a much faster rate which creates bad breath or odor.

Medicines Effect

Excessive use of antibiotics can cause bad breath problem in your child. Children who consume antibiotic medications for more than a moth develops the smelly mouth issue very easily. This happens because the long term use of antibiotics medicines affects the normal level of beneficial bacteria in the mouth hence it boosts the growth of oral fungal that causes bad odor or breath.

Also, the intake of certain medications such as Phenothiazines, Tranquilizers, and Antihistamines can reduce the production of saliva which helps in the washing off the oral cavities. This diminished level of mouth saliva further increases the bad breath issue further.

Decayed Teeth and Periodontal Disease

The teeth decay or dental caries creates a favorable environment for unhealthy bacteria growth in mouth which is responsible for the bad breath issue. When any teeth decay happens it creates immense difficulty to clean that affected area even by the brush.

Also, the food particles can easily get accumulated in the decayed zone in the mouth that creates bad breath. In this case, restoration of the decayed teeth will be the only option for eliminating bad breath problem permanently.

The periodontal disease which is an inflammatory condition can easily develop the bad breath issue in children. This issue primarily develops due to inappropriate removal of dental plaque followed by poor oral hygiene habit that causes gingivitis and bad breath problem thereon.

Specific Diseases and Infections

Some specific diseases which are not very common in children can also create halitosis or bad breath in the affected children. Such diseases include kidney failure, liver-related issues, diabetes, a stomach infection, and mouth cancer.

Also, children who are undergoing chemotherapy can easily develop a fungal infection in the mouth leading to a bad breath issue occurs. Apart from these rare diseases and conditions, some respiratory complications like asthma, sinusitis and adenoid enlargement can also cause bad breath issue in children

Certain Smelly Diet Intake

Certain foods and nutrition have their specific smell which doesn’t feel pleasant to everyone. Hence its consumption can leave its specific smell in your mouth creating a bad breath issue.

However, with the consumption of these foods, there is no relation of microbial activity as it doesn’t give a boost to the unhealthy odor-causing microorganism growth in the mouth. Some common foods that are known for creating bad breath issue include onions, garlic, and other such strong species.

After the digestion and absorption of these foods in your body, an odorous molecule enters in your bloodstream that gradually excretes through your breathing via lungs. Some high protein foods also come in this category which can create bad breath problem in children such as red meats, fishes, cheese when consumed.


Bad breath intensity differs from person to person whether it is a child or an adult person. Some people have bad breath issue but they themselves don’t know about its existence.

On the other hand, some people have very little or almost no mouth odor but still, they worry too much about it. In this concern, the below mentioned some common symptoms of bad breath oral concern will guide you better.

  • Bad oral odor
  • Constant existence of a sour or an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
  • The surface of the tongue turns to white.
  • Dryness in mouth.
  • Gums bleed while flossing.


If your child has developed bad breath oral concern then encouraging them for a healthy oral and dental care routine habit should be the primary treatment measure that you should focus around. Use a dentist recommends toothpaste and make sure that your child is brushing two times in a day one in the very morning and the second one before bedtime.

This will help in reducing cavities if it exists which is the primary factor responsible for developing bad breath or odor. The dentist generally recommends for toothpaste rich in antibacterial properties to kill the odor-causing bacteria in your mouth. Also, they prescribe for antibacterial mouthwashes for perfect cleaning of all the food particles that stuck in different corners of the mouth.

If a dentist will diagnose your child with certain gum disease then they will start further treatment to cure that particular disease as unless that particular oral condition doesn’t get relieved completely the bad breath issue will not be eliminated.

Any build-up of microorganisms in between the teeth and gums areas should be cleaned by the dentists otherwise it can further cause teeth decay and other oral diseases. After cleaning the mouth odor problem also get relieved.

An inflammatory tonsil can also cause bad breath problem in your children. An inflammatory tonsil produces pasty materials that cause mouth odor. To relieve this concern antibiotics and other medications are given to the child to relieve both the inflammation and bad breath problem.

Mostly the bad breath problem in children is associated with improper oral hygiene however if this issue persists for longer duration and doesn’t relieve even after improving the oral hygiene habit then it simply indicates some underlying concern.

Some very rare diseases which can cause bad breath issue in children need consistent and long term treatment for the complete relief from that specific health condition and its associated symptoms including bad breath.

Some rare medical conditions that can cause bad breath issue in your child include lung diseases, type1, and type 2 diabetes, kidney and liver diseases. However these conditions are very rare in children, still, if it exists then necessary immediate treatment should be given to the affected child.

Whether the causes of bad breath in children are temporary or persistent one it must not be ignored at any condition by the parents. The healthy oral care routine habit should be nurtured in kids since the very beginning so in later stages of their life this stressful issue will not develop.

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