Why Does My Child have Bad Breath?

Children can get bad breath from a variety of sources, and it’s actually an incredibly common and treatable condition. In fact, 50% of Americans are diagnosed with bad halitosis (bad breath) each year. But never fret, bad breath comes from a number of innocent sources, most of which can be easily fixed.

Poor Oral Hygiene Habits

The number one cause of halitosis in children is poor oral hygiene. Luckily, a proper oral care routine is incredibly easy to achieve. To start, make sure that your child has a fresh toothbrush, that is under 3-months old and has bristles that don’t plume outward. Also, be sure that they have floss that is comfortable for them to use, and appropriate for their age.

Make sure your child brushes twice per day for two minutes at a time, and flosses once per day. When flossing, stress the importance of hitting both sides of the tooth, and beneath the gum line so that they clean their entire tooth.

Leftover Food

Food sometimes sticks around long after mealtime, and it can cause really stinky breath – especially in children! If your child has food stuck in their teeth, then have them swish cool water in their mouth vigorously for 30 seconds. If that doesn’t work, then have them floss into the affected crevice to remove any leftover food.

Dry Mouth

Saliva naturally cleans the mouth, and a dry mouth can cause bad breath. Dry mouth can usually be fixed by eating foods that increase saliva production like cheese, apples or carrots. Make sure your child gets enough water – 8 to 10 cups per day- and if that doesn’t help, then try chewing gum sweetened with xylitol – a healthy sugar substitute – to increase their saliva flow.

Dietary Choices

Food can – and absolutely does – lead to bad breath.  Certain foods like garlic, onions, fish and spicy foods can turn even the best breath sour. Even dairy – which strengthens teeth and enamel – can cause bad breath. Make sure your children drink plenty of water at mealtime to help keep their teeth free of food debris.


If your child just recently began a new medication, then it could be causing their bad breath. Sometimes generic medications like antihistamines can decrease saliva and lead to dry mouth – which can cause bad breath. To combat this, parent can make sure that their children are maintaining a proper oral care routine by brushing twice per day for two minutes at a time, and flossing once per day.

Visit Our Office

If your child has bad breath that is not alleviated by brushing and proper oral care, then visit our office. Our team can diagnose the cause of your child’s bad breath, and provide a treatment plan that will help them have more confidence in their smile.