bad breath in children savina dental clinics malta and gozo

One of the first and best oral hygiene practice you can teach your children at a tender age is brushing their teeth before they retire to bed. This oral practice is not only crucial for the development of healthy teeth but also essential to ensure their breath stays fresh every day. In case your child has bad breath, also known as halitosis, it is crucial that you find out the underlying cause to take care of it.

Causes of Bad Breath in Children

Did you know that bad breath in children is not just as a result of poor oral practices? There are other significant causes of bad breath, including;

Sinus Infection

The most common symptom of a sinus infection in children is a stuffy nose or a sore throat. A sinus infection causes fluid to amass in the throat and nasal passage, creating the perfect breeding place for bacteria. This, in turn, results in a stinky breath that cannot be cured by simply brushing their teeth or blowing their nose. If you suspect that your child has a sinus infection, we highly recommend that you contact your general practitioner for necessary treatment.

Foreign Objects

While this isn’t always at the front of most parents’ thoughts, your child’s bad breath may be caused by a foreign item that is stuck in their nasal passage. Young kids are curious beings, and their nostrils provide the perfect place to try and fit in small items like beans, beads, food and toy accessories. When a foreign item gets wedged in a child’s nasal passage, it can create a foul smell. If you think this might be what is causing the bad breath in your child, you will need to have it checked and removed immediately to avoid further complications.

Swollen Tonsils

If you suspect your child’s tonsils are swollen, take a flashlight and peek into their mouth. Swollen tonsils look red, inflamed with white spots and emit a terrible smell, whereas healthy ones look pink and spot free. Bacteria collects in the swollen tonsils, which is an ideal environment for bacterial activity.

This, combined with the foul smell of infection can result in bad breath. If you find that your child’s tonsils look red and inflamed, we recommend that you have them checked by your doctor.

Dry Mouth

Young kids are very energetic. They spend a good part of their day running around and exploring, to the extent that they easily forget to stay hydrated. The lack of proper hydration usually causes foul breath in kids who play sports. If your child does not get enough water when playing, their mouth automatically starts producing less saliva, which is crucial for washing away odour-causing bacteria. Insufficient saliva can also lead to cavities and tooth decay. Therefore, it is vital that you take extra care to ensure your kids are properly hydrated throughout the day, whether they are playing or not.

Oral Issues

Oral infections, tooth decay, and gum disease can cause bad breath in children. Unfortunately, even the best oral hygiene habits cannot get rid of bad oral odour caused by these conditions. Although some scented toothpaste for kids can help prevent these issues from spreading, they can’t heal gum disease or cavities. Therefore, if the cause of your child’s bad breath is a cavity, it is crucial that you visit your dentist.

For urgent bookings or pressing teeth related treatment questions, call Savina Clinic today on (+356) 2125 7253 (Malta) / (+356) 2155 7323 (Gozo).

Mouth Breathing

If your child breathes through their mouth either due to sinus problems, a stuffy nose, or sleep habit, the saliva is inhibited from adequately cleaning away bacteria. This can result in stinky breath.

Bacteria on the Tongue

The bacteria that thrive on the tongue are notorious for causing bad breath. If your child does not brush their teeth properly, it may result in a foul oral breath.

Certain Foods

If your child loves foods with a strong odour like onions, garlic, or specific spices, they can impact their breath.


Some medicines can cause bad breath. The process by which they breakdown causes them to release chemicals that may affect your breath.


Does your child have malpositioned, crowded, crooked or teeth that are outside their normal dental arch? Such dental issues can worsen bad breath. That is why you will realise that even if your child practices good oral hygiene and does not have cavities, they may still experience bad breath.

Poor Dental Fillings

When composite or amalgam restorations are not fitted to match the normal anatomy of your teeth, they can cause bad breath. Poorly fitted dental fillings make it hard for you to clean them, leading to food impaction, which causes bad breath.

Orthodontic Appliances

Orthodontic appliances such as fixed or removable braces, retainers or brackets make observing optimal oral hygiene hard. If your child does not pay particular attention to their accuracy when cleaning their teeth, they are highly likely to suffer from bad breath as well as other dental conditions such as dental calculus, plaque formation, and gingivitis.

How Children or Teenagers Can Avoid Bad Breath

Brush Teeth Regularly

According to the Kids Health Organization and the American Dental Association, brushing your teeth twice a day with the recommended fluoride toothpaste promotes fresh breath. So make sure to supervise your younger children, so they brush well and don’t swallow the toothpaste.

Scrape Your Tongue

Remind your child also to use their brush to clean their tongue as bacteria tends to collect and grow on it if not cleaned properly.


Encourage your child to floss daily to remove any food particles stuck in between their teeth.

New Toothbrush Regularly

Invest in a new toothbrush for your little one every three months as dull bristles can’t effectively remove plaque and debris from the teeth.

Regular Checkups

Regular dental check-ups are crucial to a healthy mouth and fresh breath. These check-ups help to keep halitosis and other oral health concerns at bay. Also, make sure to schedule regular professional cleanings with your dentist.

Other Kids Halitosis Remedies

Make Breakfast a Priority

Ensure your child has breakfast every morning to promote the secretion of saliva throughout the day.

Drink more water

Staying hydrated ensures they have enough saliva to wash off any bacteria in your mouth. Natural water is ideal, as opposed to artificially flavoured water, juices or fizzy drinks as it does not cause decay.

Chew sugar-free gum

Chewing sugar-free gum also helps increase saliva secretion which is crucial for fresh breath.

More fruit and veg

Eat more raw fruits and veggies to create an inhospitable environment for bacteria which cause bad breath.

Consult a dentist regarding mouth breathing solutions:

If your child’s breaths through the mouth, talk to your dentist for breathing solutions.

Chronic Bad Breath in Children

Your child’s breath should freshen up once you adopt these remedies. However, some kids may suffer chronic bad breath that just doesn’t go away. In such a case, we highly recommend that you visit a dentist.

Your Dentist will perform;

  • Sniff test
  • Complete Medical History
  • Full oral examination

In the event the dentist doesn’t find any condition that may be causing the bad breath, they may refer you to your primary caregiver for additional tests. According to the Journal of Natural Science, approximately 8% of all halitosis cases occur from other oral sources such as respiratory system problems, hepatic disease or haematological system disorders. These tests will help them diagnose the underlying cause of the chronic bad breath.

In case your child suffers from bad breath, do not assume that it is from skipping their daily oral health care routine. As outlined above, your child can still have bad breath even with regular brushing. So, take your time to do your research and if necessary, visit your dentist for the best course of action.

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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.

Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams' full biographical information can be found here.