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What causes bad breath in children?


Have you noticed that your child's breath when he wakes up has an unpleasant smell that doesn't go away after brushing his teeth? This bad breath may be a sign that something is wrong.

Bad breath is not a disease in itself, but it can be a sign of a health or oral hygiene problem in children.

In this article, we list (not exhaustive) the oral causes of bad breath in children and the infant, as well as some recommendations to correct this problem.



The main causes of bad breath in children

Oral concerns are the leading cause of bad breath in children. Your child's age and the presence of additional symptoms can give you an idea of the problem.

By identifying it early, you can then go directly to the appropriate health care professional for treatment.

Among the oral problems, the causes of bad breath in children are the following:


Dental flare-ups

If your baby is teething and has bad breath, chances are that it's the appearance of baby teeth that's causing the discomfort.

Teething is usually accompanied by inflammation of the oral organs and tissues. These inflammations are conducive to the proliferation of bacteria, which can then lead to an unpleasant smell.


Functional problems

Bad tongue positioning, poor chewing, sleep apnea or functional problems in the maxillofacial area can also cause bad breath in children.


The language

The tongue is home to many oral bacteria. Because the tongue is warm, moist and has tiny gaps, bacteria can grow easily.

Tongue hygiene is sometimes neglected or linked to bad habits. Indeed, some people brush their tongue with toothbrush bristles. These bristles can damage the tongue. The use of a tongue scraper is therefore preferable.


Infections and diseases

Sinusitis: When you have sinusitis, fluid collects in your nasal passages and throat. The growth of bacteria in the throat can lead to bad breath.

Tonsils: When the tonsils are red, sometimes with white spots, it is a sign of inflammation. It is then not uncommon for the breath to be smelly.

Other rarer diseases such as diabetes, gastric infections, kidney failure, etc. can also be the cause of bad breath in children.


Foreign bodies

It may seem surprising, but bad breath in children can be caused by a foreign object stuck in the nasal passage. Because of their curiosity, children may insert small items such as beads, small toy accessories or food.

The fact that these foreign bodies are lodged in the nasal passages can cause an infection with a bad smell.


Dry mouth or mouth breathing

Some medications, finger sucking, use of a pacifier or general dehydration of the body can result in dry mouth.

Lack of saliva is also caused by oral breathing and snoring.

Saliva is involved in the elimination of bacteria, so a lack of saliva promotes bacteria, the risk of cavities and bad breath.


The diet

Your child's bad breath may simply be due to eating certain foods such as garlic, onions and strong spices.

The odorous molecules of these foods are found in the bloodstream and are gradually released by breathing.


Formation of caries

Although it is not always visible, the formation of cavities in young children is quite common. A cavity is a disease that gradually attacks the tooth and forms a hole where bacteria proliferate.

Untreated cavities can also be the cause of a child's bad breath.

It is therefore imperative to monitor his oral hygiene and to take him to see a dentist as soon as his first milk teeth appear.


Thrush in infants

In babies under 6 months of age, bad breath can also be caused by the presence of candidiasis. Candidiasis is quite easy to detect with the naked eye, as it appears as whitish patches of varying size inside the mouth (on the tongue, inside the cheeks, etc.).

Thrush is usually the result of an imbalance in the intestinal flora caused by an antibiotic or a previous illness.


Other possible causes

Other major causes of bad breath include:

  • Poor general dental hygiene (no brushing, no flossing)
  • Tartar plates.

My baby has bad breath: what should I do?


Consult the pedodontist

If you suspect that your child's bad breath is related to an oral problem, do not hesitate to call a pedodontist. This specialized children's dentist will be able to provide the necessary care to correct the cause of the problem.

Once the cause of a child's bad breath is treated, it usually disappears within two weeks.


Fighting the causes of bad breath in children

In general, to prevent your child from suffering from bad breath, it is worth remembering some good practices.


Oral hygiene

It consists in brushing the teeth after each meal with a toothbrush and a toothpaste adapted to the age of the child. For children, it is important to use a fluoride toothpaste but in very small quantities.

Oral hygiene also involves cleaning the tongue by using a tongue scraper. In addition, the bristles of the toothbrush do not reach the adjacent surfaces of the teeth. Therefore, the use of dental floss or interdental brushes is strongly recommended.

In addition, younger children have difficulty cleaning their teeth on their own. Parents must do it for them and then continue to supervise them even when they become a little more independent.



It's important to make sure your child drinks enough water each day. Also, better chewing helps produce saliva, so teach your child to chew food well during meals.

Are you looking for a pedodontist in Paris? Dr. Adriana Agachi's office and her team welcome you in a warm and friendly environment.

If you think your child's bad breath is related to a dental problem, don't hesitate to call us for an examination. We will schedule an appointment for you as soon as possible.



Frequently asked questions about the causes of bad breath in children

Why does my child have bad breath?

The causes of bad breath in a child are varied. It can be due to poor oral hygiene, the appearance of cavities or be a sign of a functional problem. Read our article on the causes of bad breath in children.

Can my child's bad breath be related to teething?

Yes, it is very common for a child's teething to be accompanied by bad breath. In fact, inflammations are created in the oral tissues, and they are favourable to the development of bacteria. Discover the other causes of bad breath in children.

All about this blog

Pediatric dentistry is all about working together for the well-being of your children!


Do you have a question? Dr. Adriana Agachi is at your disposal!

+33 (0)1 84 17 77 47

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