Explaining The 5 Most Common Causes Of Bad Breath In Children

Bad breath (halitosis) can sometimes indicate oral health issues, but in some cases, it’s nothing to worry about. Wondering what the most common causes are of bad breath in kids, and what you can do to help? Read on and get all of the details from the team at Willow Pediatric Dentistry.

1. Tooth Decay

Smelly breath can be a sign of tooth decay. As your child’s teeth decay, bacteria reproduce rapidly, excreting more acid that contributes to continued decay. These bacteria can make their breath smell bad. If you also notice things like dark spots on their teeth, holes and deep pits in the teeth, or teeth sensitivity, this may be the cause of the problem. 

Proper oral hygiene is essential for preventing cavities. Clean their teeth regularly, feed them a healthy diet, and never put them to bed with a bottle unless it contains tap water. Sleeping with a bottle of milk, juice, formula, or any other sugary liquid can cause “baby bottle mouth,” a serious type of tooth decay affecting the upper teeth. 

2. Inadequate Oral Hygiene

As mentioned, oral bacteria stink. And if your child has recently taken over brushing duties, which usually happens at the age of 5-6, they may simply not be brushing their teeth thoroughly enough.

This can lead to bacteria buildup and smelly breath, as well as a higher risk of tooth decay. We recommend supervising young kids to ensure they brush properly. Make sure they brush at least twice a day for two minutes using fluoride toothpaste, and thoroughly clean each of their teeth.

3. Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) 

Certain medications can cause dry mouth (xerostomia), but this is pretty rare in children. More often, dry mouth is caused by inadequate hydration. Drinking water helps promote better saliva flow. Saliva, in turn, neutralizes acid and helps rinse away bacteria and food particles, so insufficient saliva flow can lead to bacteria buildup.

Mouth breathing often contributes to dry mouth. If your child breathes through their mouth, their oral cavity will naturally dry out. Consistent mouth breathing can also lead to oral development issues, so we recommend discussing this with your pediatrician and/or pediatric dentist. 

4. Smelly Foods

Sometimes, bad breath is just caused by smelly foods! Think about your child’s diet and what they’ve been eating. The most common culprits of this are alliums like garlic and onions, smelly fish like tuna, and certain dairy products, especially some types of strong-smelling cheese.

5. Other Oral And Respiratory Infections

Some issues unrelated to oral health can cause smelly breath. An upper respiratory infection like a cold or flu can cause bacteria to build up in the airway and respiratory system, which may cause nasty breath.

Or, the issue may be tonsillitis (infection of the tonsils) or tonsil stones. These can also lead to the buildup of bacteria and bad breath.

Worried About Bad Breath? Get To The Bottom Of It At Willow Pediatric Dentistry!

If your child’s breath is smelly and you’re worried about their oral health in Rancho Santa Margarita, Dr. Sam is here to help. As an experienced pediatric dentist, he can quickly diagnose the issue and ensure your child gets the care they need for a healthy mouth. Contact us online or give us a call at (949) 966-0669 to get started.

Want to Chat?

Visit us at:

22032 El Paseo, Suite 215
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688

See us on:

Monday: 8am - 5pm
Tuesdays: 8am - 4pm
Thursdays: 8am - 4pm
Fridays: 9am - 5pm
Saturdays: 8am - 3pm