There’s nothing like your child climbing on your lap and breathing a very smelly “I love you, Mommy,” into your face. Bad breath is a common problem in kids, simply because it doesn’t have the same unpleasant social implications as it does for adults. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. Here are a few causes and solutions for bad breath in children.


Food: Foods with strong odors, such as onion, garlic, cheese, ranch dressing, and soda, are worsened when they come in contact with saliva.

Poor Dental Hygiene: If food is not properly cleaned from your child’s teeth, it will grow bacteria and cause a rotten smell in the mouth.

Plaque Buildup: Some children have a problem with excess plaque even if they have perfect dental hygiene habits and that plaque can grow bacteria and smell.

Illness: Many illnesses such as cold, flu, sinus infection, bronchitis, thrush, and lactose intolerance can cause bad breath.

Dry Mouth: If your child has a habit of breathing through the mouth or does not drink enough water, it can result in a dry mouth, which causes bad breath because of the lack of saliva.

Medications: Some antibiotics and antihistamines cause halitosis.

Morning Breath: During the night, saliva production nearly stops, and the lack of saliva washing away bacteria in your mouth overnight causes an odor.


Brush and Floss: Teach your child to brush and floss at least twice a day. If the bad breath persists, teach them to brush after meals as well. This will keep bacteria out of the mouth.

Tongue and Cheeks: Many children do not clean their tongue or inside of their cheeks, which are common places for bacteria to grow. Many toothbrushes come with a tongue brush on the back of the head, which would make it easy for your child to use. Or, they could use a tongue scraper.

Water: Proper hydration will help wash away bacteria, increase saliva production, and lessen the chances of dry mouth.

No Mints or Mouthwash: Though these may momentarily remove the smell, they will not solve the problem permanently and they are usually unhealthy. Breath mints are generally full of sugar, and mouthwash can be harmful for children if swallowed.

Correct Habits: Some bad habits common in children, like mouth breathing, thumb sucking, and chewing or sucking on objects, can be the cause of bad breath. Work to correct these habits for better breath and quality of life for your child.

See a Dentist: Sometimes the treatment for bad breath goes beyond your capabilities and can be a sign of something more serious. If you’ve tried several of these treatments and cannot pinpoint the cause of your child’s bad breath, give us a call today to make an appointment. We’ll pinpoint the cause and find the solution before it gets worse.