What’s a Kid with Smelly Breath to Do?

Bad breath, also referred to as halitosis, is often a condition that adults are conscious of, but did you know that even healthy children can experience halitosis? Surprisingly, even toddlers can have smelly breath! If you’ve noticed that your child’s breath is not so pleasant, there’s no need to worry! Although the main culprit is typically not brushing enough, there are also other conditions that could be causing your child to have bad breath.

It is important to inform your child of the importance of brushing, flossing, and rinsing after meals. Missing this routine can cause plaque buildup and bacteria in the mouth to multiply, thus resulting in oral odor. The main odor causing areas in the mouth are between teeth, under the gum line, and on the tongue. However, it is not abnormal for your child to experience morning breath. The unwanted bacteria eventually becomes washed away by your child’s saliva as the day continues.

Here are some common causes of bad breath in children:

  • Dry mouth. When saliva production in your child’s mouth is lower than normal, dry mouth can occur, which typically produces smelly odors. It is crucial to remind your child to stay hydrated, especially when participating sports or other physical activities, to avoid risk of dry mouth and bad breath. In addition, saliva also protects the mouth from tooth decay, cavities, and other oral health problems.
  • Mouth breathing. It is hard for saliva to wash away odor-producing bacteria when a child breathes through their mouth rather than through their nose. Mouth breathing dries out the mouth and can lead to other oral health problems for children.
  • Bacteria on the tongue. Remind your child when brushing to brush their tongue too! A lot of smelly bacteria reside on the tongue, which can be easily removed using a soft bristled brush!
  • Allergies or a sinus infection. Your child’s sore throat or stuffy nose could be the cause of bad breath, due to bacteria within the nasal passages and throat.
  • Swollen tonsils. When tonsils become infected and inflamed, they often carry an unpleasant smell. Bacteria can gather on the swollen tonsils and cause bad breath.
  • A foreign object. As strange as it may sound, your child’s bad breath could be the result of a small object stuck in their nasal passages. Sometimes a baby may place small items such as beads, food particles, tiny toys, or beans in his or her nose, which can lead to bad breath.
  • Your child’s diet. Bad breath can be simply caused by what your child consumed for lunch. Foods with strong odors, including garlic or onions may be influencing the odor of your child’s breath.
  • Medications. If your child is taking certain medications, the chemicals released within their bodies may result in bad breath.

Despite the cause of bad breath, it is important to teach children the importance of forming good oral health care habits at an early age. Consider obtaining flavored floss and a toothbrush with your child’s favorite television character on it, which can make brushing more fun. Also, try to avoid breath mints, which typically contain sugar that can lead to more oral bacteria!

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or to set up an appointment and consultation.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. Kim or Dr.PradhanDr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.


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