Bad breath (halitosis) is common in children, especially older children and adolescents. It is often related to bacterial activity in the back of the mouth, nose or on the teeth.
- postnasal drip is the most common cause of bad breath in children, and may be caused by allergies, recurrent colds or chronic sinus infections.
- poor dentition is usually suspected when children have bad breath. It may be from cavities, inflammed gums (gingivitis) or trapped food particles, which can also become trapped in the crypts of the tonsils, leading to tonsilloliths.
- mouth breathing, whether because of allergies or enlarged adenoids, can also lead to bad breath, usually because the mouth becomes dry and saliva can not perform its role of washing away bacteria in the mouth. Other conditions that lead to a dry mouth, such as taking certain medications, can also lead to bad breath.
- nasal foreign body - a small item placed and stuck in a child's nose can often get infected and lead to an odor. A clue for this problem is that they will often just have a green discharge from one nostril, whereas most infections would cause drainage from both sides of their nose
Bad breath can also be associated with eating certain foods and with cigarette smoking (another good reason to advice your kids not to start smoking).
Bad breath can often be treated or prevented through good oral hygeine, including brushing and flossing, cleaning the back of the tongue, keeping the mouth moist, rinsing the mouth, and treatment of any underlying allergies, sinus infections or other medical conditions that may be contributing to the bad breath.