A Guide to Bad Breath in Children

bad breath in children Richmond VABad breath is a common occurrence in most children. It may be a source of embarrassment for your child. As the parent, you can step in and perform the proper oral hygiene techniques for your child until he/she learns them well enough to execute them on their own. There is hope for children with bad breath.

Bad breath, or halitosis, is often a symptom of conditions such as dental problems, sinus issues, or dry mouth. Brushing helps teeth, but is not always the answer for bad breath in children.

To obtain the best treatment, we must first identify the root cause. As pediatric dentist, we are familiar with the common causes of halitosis in children. At PDOVA, we would like to start with the most common causes of bad breath in children to include:


Poor oral hygiene may be the cause of your child’s bad breath. We encourage parents to make sure your child is brushing, flossing, and rinsing their teeth. Also, ensure they brush their tongue. If your child is struggling with the coordination to brush his teeth, you may brush them and show them the proper skills to clean teeth effectively.

Oral Health Problems.

Regular brushing is vital for good oral hygiene, but may not be enough to completely avoid tooth decay and gum disease. Your child must see a dentist regularly to address issues early.


A sinus infection can cause mucus to collect in the throat and creating an ideal location for bacteria to build up. Unfortunately, brushing and mouthwash cannot fix this issue. You may consider scheduling a visit with the pediatrician to resolve the problem.

Dry Mouth.

Saliva is the body’s way to neutralize the pH in the mouth. Some medications may cause dry mouth or decrease the production of saliva. When the pH in the mouth becomes acidic, it can cause problems such as plaque buildup and decay. If your child is experiencing dry mouth, it may be contributing to their bad breath.


Certain foods and drinks contribute to bad breath. If your child is eating a lot of onions, garlic or certain other foods and spices this can cause bad breath.

Other Health Issues.

Bad breath is also caused by some health issues such as swollen tonsils, high blood glucose, allergies and other health issues. Even certain medications can cause a problem. Consult your pediatrician or family doctor if you believe bad breath may stem from health issues rather than poor dental hygiene.

At PDOVA, we can take care of the dental part. Here are some tips for keeping oral hygiene at its best between dental visits:

  • Brush twice a day. Use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste.

  • Supervise children when brushing to ensure proper techniques, and so they don’t swallow any toothpaste.

  • Make sure your child brushes their tongue to remove bacteria.

  • Have your child floss daily to decrease plaque buildup between teeth.

  • Remind your child to rinse their mouth with water after eating between brushing.

  • Have children chew sugar-free gum to activate saliva production.

  • Buy your child a new toothbrush every couple of months.

  • Schedule regular checkups with your dentist.

Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics of Virginia encourages all parents to check that your children are brushing their teeth properly and on a consistent schedule. Good habits will last a lifetime.

Generally, bad breath in children will go away with good hygiene. Start with a visit to the dentist first to make sure your child’s oral health is on track. If the dentist establishes your child has a healthy mouth, it is time to visit your pediatrician or family doctor. Identifying the root cause of bad breath is the most effective way to treat it.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s oral health, please contact us today at 804.739.0963 or request an appointment online.


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