Why Does My Child's Breath Smell Bad?

Tell us if this sounds familiar: 

Your child is back from daycare or school and when you hug them, you notice that their breath is a bit stinky. 

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is quite common in kids. In fact, parents often ask us during their kids' preventive appointments what they can do about their child's smelly breath and how they can keep it at bay. 

In this article, we're going to talk about what causes halitosis and what you can do about it. 

What Causes Bad Breath in Kids

Various factors can cause bad breath in kids, such as: 

Poor Oral Hygiene 

Is your little one brushing their teeth thoroughly and for at least two minutes? Regular brushing and flossing help eliminate food particles that can cause a foul smell. Moreover, if food debris isn't removed properly, bacteria will start building up, leading to plaque and tooth decay. These can also cause bad breath as well as other dental problems that will require a visit to the dentist. 

Make sure that your child is brushing properly to avoid these problems. 

Dry Mouth

Our saliva plays a crucial role in keeping our mouths moist and washing away harmful bacteria. If your kid sleeps with their mouth open or if they use a pacifier or suck their thumb, then these actions can dry their saliva out, enabling bacterial growth. These bacteria can lead to tooth decay and bad breath. 

Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids throughout the day and talk to your dentist about ways to prevent dry mouth. 


If your child seems to have good oral health, then something else can be the cause of their bad breath. Usually, sinus infections or swollen tonsils could be the culprit. Some diseases such as diabetes or stomach issues can also cause foul breath. 

Gum Disease 

If your child isn't brushing properly and plaque and tartar start building up around their gum line, then that can lead to gingivitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums and just like any other infection, it tends to smell bad. 

Their Diet

More often than not, your child's bad breath is caused by the food they are eating. Sulfur-producing foods like onions or garlic tend to linger in the bloodstream for a few hours and the smell doesn't go away even after brushing. 

We Keep Kids' Smiles Beautiful and Healthy 

If you are concerned about your child's bad breath and would like to make sure that their oral health is in good order, then you've come to the right place. At Willow Pediatric Dentistry, we will help you understand your child's dental needs and how to best take care of their oral health (on top of their regular preventive appointments. 

Book your appointment with Dr. Sam or one of his colleagues and let us treat your little one in a safe, comfortable, and fun environment.

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

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