9 Causes of Bad Breath in Kids & How to Prevent | Colgate® SG

9 Causes of Bad Breath in Children

Bad breath, medically known as halitosis, is a condition that even healthy children can sometimes experience. Even if you've noticed that your little one's breath is not so pleasant, there is still hope. When it comes to bad breath in children, improper oral hygiene is often the culprit. Learn the nine causes of bad breath to figure out what to do next.

What Causes Bad Breath in Children?

Several factors could contribute to bad breath. Here are some of the most common causes:

  1. Poor oral hygiene. If your child doesn't clean their teeth thoroughly or frequently, it can result in bad breath. If plaque is not brushed away, it can irritate the gums, causing additional issues.
  2. Dry mouth. Saliva helps to cleanse the mouth. When your child's mouth produces less saliva than usual, xerostomia (dry mouth) may occur, contributing to bad breath.
  3. Mouth breathing. When a child breathes through their mouth (due to a stuffy nose or as a sleep habit), it prevents saliva from washing away bacteria, which promotes bad breath.
  4. Bacteria on the Tongue.

    The tongue can also harbour bacteria that produce foul odours and bad breath, so make sure your child cleans their tongue as well.

  5. Infections in the mouth. Cavities, plaque build-up, mouth sores or oral surgery can also contribute to bad breath. This is just one reason why seeking professional dental treatment is important if your child develops these issues.
  6. A foreign object. Sometimes a baby or toddler will place a foreign object (tiny toys, food particles etc.) in their nose. A foreign object lodged in the nose can cause bad breath in children.
  7. Certain foods. If your child consumes foods that have a strong odour, like garlic, onions or certain spices, it can impact the breath.
  8. Medications. Sometimes, the way medication breaks down in the body can lead to bad breath. This process releases chemicals that may result in bad breath.
  9. An illness or condition. Allergies, a sinus infection, tonsillitis or other conditions can cause bad breath too.

How to Avoid Bad Breath

Healthy teeth are integral to a child's overall health and well-being. You can help your child avoid bad breath by developing an oral care routine.

  • Have your child brush twice a day with a pea-sized amount of a fluoride toothpaste to promote fresh breath. Always remember to supervise young children so they do not swallow the toothpaste.
  • When your child brushes their teeth, make sure they also clean their tongue, as bacteria can collect and grow on the tongue.
  • Clean between their teeth with floss, a flosser, or an interdental brush to remove odour-causing food particles from the teeth.
  • The best kids' toothpaste for bad breath is one that is made for their size.
  • Remember to get a new toothbrush every few months, because dull bristles cannot effectively remove plaque and debris from the teeth.
  • Avoid halitosis and other oral health concerns by scheduling regular check-ups and professional cleanings with a dentist.

Chronic Bad Breath

Most of the time, your child's bad breath will go away once you implement better oral hygiene. However, some children may experience chronic bad breath. If their dentist eliminates oral issues, you may be referred to a general practitioner (GP) for additional tests to diagnose the underlying cause of halitosis.

Many of these causes of bad breath are temporary. Regardless of the cause of bad breath, teaching children how to form good dental care habits at an early age is vital to both their oral and overall health.