By Raising Children Network
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If your child has bad breath, the first step is to work out what’s causing it. Treating the cause will usually sort it out.


Most children have ‘bad breath’ when they wake up. This will usually go away after your child has something to eat and drink and cleans her teeth. It isn’t anything to worry about.

There are many other possible causes for bad breath, including mouth or throat infections, a blocked nose, sinusitis, gum disease (gingivitis), and tooth decay or abscesses.

In adolescent children, causes of bad breath might also include extreme diets (for example, high-protein diets or anorexia nervosa), poor dental hygiene (particularly if your child wears braces or other orthodontic devices), or tobacco use. 

Rarely, breath that smells unusual might be caused by medical problems such as lung disease (including bronchiectasis and lung abscesses) or diabetes.

When to see your doctor

See your doctor if you’re worried, or if your child’s bad breath doesn’t go away after trying the treatment strategies below.


Treatment of the cause should help sort out your child’s bad breath.

Your child could try using an antibacterial mouthwash and paying attention to dental hygiene. This includes cleaning his teeth and tongue, and flossing between teeth.

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  • Last Updated 23-06-2011
  • Last Reviewed 13-05-2011
  • Yoon, P.J., Kelley, P.E., & Friedman, N.R. (2009). Ear, nose and throat. In W. Hay, M. Levin, J. Sondheimer & R. Deterding (Eds), Current diagnosis and treatment: Pediatrics (20th edn, pp. 452-486). New York: McGraw-Hill.

    Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service Website (2010). Bad breath. Retrieved October 12, 2010, from

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