Reasons for Bad Breath in Kids

If you’ve ever leaned in to give your child a hug or kiss after dinner and smelled an unpleasant scent, you know that children can get bad breath just as adults can. While most cases of bad breath in children result from improper oral hygiene, chronic conditions or illness can also cause halitosis.

Poor Dental Hygiene

Children tend not to be very excited about brushing their teeth or flossing. One of the main reasons that children have bad breath is that they do not clean their teeth, gums and tongue well enough. As bacteria breaks down, any food particles left in a child’s mouth release sulfur compounds, which cause the foul smell. Teach your child to brush for at least two minutes twice a day, brush his tongue or use a tongue scraper, and floss daily.


If your child has undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes, his breath will have a fruity smell or will smell like acetone, as the kidneys try to rid the body of extra acetone, according to Medline Plus. If you notice that your child’s breath smells like acetone, you should take him to the doctor right away. Insulin injections to manage diabetes may also give your child’s breath an unpleasant odor.

Object Stuck in the Nostril

Sometimes bad breath in children is a result of the child placing a foreign object, such as a piece of cereal or popcorn, into his nostril. As the object breaks down, it produces an unpleasant smell. You may notice that your child’s nostril is bleeding or producing a yellowish discharge. If your child has inserted an object far into his nose, take him to the doctor instead of trying to remove it yourself. You may end up lodging the object deeper into the nostril.


The bacteria from an upper respiratory infection, such as sinusitis or a sore throat can also cause bad breath in your child. Usually, if your child has an infection, he’ll have other symptoms, such as nasal discharge and a fever.

Dry Mouth

Sleeping with his mouth open or breathing through his mouth can dry out a child’s mouth, leading to bad breath. Your child may have dry mouth if he doesn’t drink enough water or if he uses tobacco.



Leave a Reply