Does your child have bad breath? This problem is surprisingly common among children, although we imagine they will always have sweet-smelling breath and it can even affect toddlers. We are often asked how to treat halitosis in children.

What Causes Bad Breath in Children?

Halitosis symptoms can be caused by bacteria which are present in everyone’s mouth. These bacteria live off food debris and create sulfurous compounds that produce noxious odors. Bad breath can also be caused by food becoming trapped in between their teeth where it gradually begins to rot and tooth decay.

The most common cause of bad breath in children is down to poor dental hygiene and where plaque on teeth has been allowed to build up on the teeth and gums. Plaque on teeth must be removed with regular brushing and flossing as otherwise it will continue to build up and is likely to cause a number of dental problems including bad breath, tooth decay in kids and gum disease. (see: how to remove plaque from teeth)

Quite a few children (and adults) will wake up with ‘morning breath’ that smells less than fresh. During the night the mouth is drier and produces less saliva to wash away bacteria. The longer a child sleeps the higher the numbers of bacteria. This condition can be exacerbated if a child is a mouth breather. Tonsillitis, sinus infections and colds and other illnesses can all cause bad breath.

How to Treat Bad Breath

If your child is overdue for a dental check-up, then book an appointment with our pediatric dentist. A full examination will determine if their halitosis symptoms are being caused by untreated dental diseases or are due to poor oral hygiene. We can professionally clean their teeth which will remove any build-up of teeth plaque and will show you the best way to keep their teeth clean at home, including instructions on brushing and flossing. If any treatment is required, we will provide a written plan and can explain all available treatment options.

If we can’t find any reason for their bad breath then we may recommend you book an appointment with their pediatrician. This will help rule out the possibility of their halitosis being due to an underlying and previously undiagnosed medical condition or illness.

Bad Breath Remedies for Home

Once your child has nice fresh breath, there are various ways you can help them maintain it. Make sure you brush their teeth thoroughly twice a day and that you floss their teeth once-a-day. If they are older, ensure they are brushing properly as they might need a little extra supervision. Encourage them to brush their tongue as this can harbor large amounts of bacteria. This can be done using a soft bristled brush or a special tongue scraper.

Keeping well-hydrated helps to keep breath fresh, so encourage your child to drink plenty of water. Providing sugar-free candies or gum in between meals helps encourage saliva flow, which in turn will wash away bacteria. Dentists are often asked about the best mouthwash for bad breath and generally this will be one with antimicrobial ingredients or a brand which contains fluoride. It is best to check with us so we can recommend a brand most suitable for your child’s age and oral health, and it is important to avoid mouthwashes which contain alcohol.