Why Does My Child’s Breath Smell So Bad?

We’ve all sat beside or conversed with an adult with bad breath. It’s not pleasant, but sometimes the reason for the offensive breath is straightforward to explain. That burger may have caused it with the raw onions or perhaps that plate of pasta heavy on the garlic.

Why does my child’s breath smell?

Why does my child’s breath smellBut how about your kiddos? Have you ever snuggled with your toddler only to notice that his breath smells less than sweet? Or have you noticed your teenager’s breath has been smelling pretty bad lately? Should you be concerned that your child(ren) has a considerable halitosis problem?

Maybe or maybe not. It largely depends on the cause. There are many common reasons for a child’s bad breath, and not all are something to worry about. 

Consider these:

  • Tongue coating – Have you noticed that your child has developed a white tongue coating? This could be the reason for their stinky breath. Odor-causing bacteria, food, and decomposing skin cells often get stuck on the back third of the tongue, and the white color you see is from all the “stuff” trapped between the papillae, the tiny bumps on the tongue. So, be sure you brush your child’s tongue when they’re little or instruct them to do so as they age. That’ll help a lot!
  • Not producing enough saliva – Spit helps to wash away food particles as well as bacteria in the mouth and also serves to neutralize acids. When not enough saliva is produced, that doesn’t happen. Because saliva production slows at night, your child will usually wake up with morning breath. That will disappear once teeth are brushed. But if your child has chronic dry mouth, often due to medications, address that with your pediatric dentist.
  • Allergies or infections – Issues like seasonal allergies, sinus infections, or chronic post-nasal drip can cause unpleasant breath. These should go away when the illness is treated, but if it doesn’t, talk to your dentist or pediatrician.
  • Tooth decay or poor oral hygiene – This is a common cause of bad breath among kids who are not brushing correctly or not receiving regular dental care. Cavity-causing bacteria smells bad, and food stuck in a cavity can worsen it.
  • Gum disease – It’s not only adults that have gum disease. This can affect children as well. Any inflammation or infection of the gum tissue that supports the teeth could indicate gingivitis, which might be responsible for your child’s constant bad breath that doesn’t go away with teeth brushing.
  • Health conditions – If your child has diabetes, thrush, a reflux disorder, or any other conditions, their breath might be affected. In rare cases, a liver or kidney disease could be responsible. Tell your doctor about your concerns if you’ve ruled out the more straightforward causes of bad breath.

While you might be tempted to hand your child a breath mint to mask the stinky odors, getting to the root of their bad breath is more important. 

Locate the underlying cause, address it with your child, and talk to your dentist or pediatrician about your concerns.

Does your child’s breath smell bad? Talk to one of our pediatric dentists at Anchorage Pediatric Dentistry at (907)562-1003 for more information or to set up an appointment today!

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At Anchorage Pediatric Dentistry, we provide comprehensive dental care for infants, children and adolescents. Our passion and the purpose of our practice, is to provide the best possible pediatric dental care through kindness, education, and excellent treatment.


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