How to Stop Bad Breath in Kids

Kids aren’t immune. We’ve all woken up with bad breath. But when is a child’s bad breath an indication of a problem?


Causes of Bad Breath

Bad breath (also known as halitosis) is a condition that hits almost everyone at some point, including kids of all ages. While certain medical conditions and even products like Tobacco can cause ongoing bad breath in adults, typically for kids, bad breath is caused by a few main culprits: bacteria, infections, and/or medications. Let’s dig into each:


  1. Bacteria Growth: Bacteria that remains on your tongue can lead to bad breath and this is a common source in kids due to a lack of consistent dental hygiene.  If your child skips brushing or flossing their teeth, little bits of food that remain in the mouth can cause bacteria to grow on the tongue and in between teeth and the gum line. This not only can lead to cavities and gum disease, but causes bad breath to linger.  Fortunately, the solution is simple: brush and floss! Developing a dental hygiene routine is critical for young kids to prevent bacteria from wreaking havoc in their mouths.  Here’s our top tips for a great dental routine:
    • Choose a fun brush. Especially for young kids, a fun brush may be the key to getting them to want to spend time brushing their teeth.
    • Brush well and for long enough: We recommend singing the alphabet song to your child nice and slow while they (or you) brush their teeth. Aim for 120 seconds and don’t forget the TONGUE! ??
    • Floss, Floss, Floss! The brush  can’t remove everything and that’s where floss comes in. Fun floss sticks help kids learn to floss themselves with easy to grip handles
    • Consistency! Turn your routine into a habit by choosing the same time each morning and night. 
  1. Infections, Allergies, & Post Nasal Drip: Infections and allergies can also cause bad breath. Bacteria inside nasal cavities and the throat such as from sinus infections and tonsillitis can create lingering bad breath and typically require a trip to a medical doctor for medication. These infections, along with allergies, can also cause post nasal drip, which is when mucus drains down the back of your throat. This drainage can also contribute to foul breath. Make sure to check with your child’s doctor should they be exhibiting signs of an infection or if allergies are not managed effectively through the use of over-the-counter medications.
  1. Medications: Certain medications can also lead to bad breath. A common side effect of many medications is dry mouth, a top cause of bad breath.  When your mouth is dry, you are not producing enough saliva. Saliva helps wash down bacteria so sleeping with a dry mouth is a sure way to wake up with extra pungent breath.  Also, some medications may contain chemicals or elements that when broken down, can also lead to bad breath. 

In addition, if your child is an amateur Master Chef Junior and is going a little heavy on the garlic, an easy fix is to switch to Kids Baking Championship instead. 🤣


When to Seek Help

Treating bad breath relies on properly identifying the root cause of the condition. Maybe it’s simple – you know your child isn’t brushing as often or good as they should. Or perhaps you’ve noticed they’ve been feeling a bit sick lately with a stuffy nose or cough. 

If none of these explanations seem to fit, schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist or pediatrician. A dental cleaning can identify (or rule out) a problem, while a medical check-up can help identify if the culprit may be something more serious like a digestion problem or other type of disease.

Our Simpsonville office offers free first-time dental check-ups and cleanings for children two and under in the greater Greenville, SC area and can help walk you through the best ways to establish a cleaning routine with your child.  To schedule a pediatric cleaning or pediatric dental check-up, fill out our online form or call us at 864-297-5585 today.