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What are the causes of bad breath (halitosis) in children?

Young children may place foreign objects in their nasal passages and they can become lodged and cause infection. Sinus infections and allergies are a common cause of bad breath. Food can also accumulate in crevices in tonsils causing bad breath. Like adults, poor dental hygiene, cavities, certain prescription drugs, and antibiotics can cause breath odor.

Bad breath (halitosis) is very common and is an unpleasant condition that can occur in children as well as adults. When children don't brush and floss, particles of food can remain in the mouth collecting bacteria, which can cause bad breath. Food that collects between the teeth, on the tongue and around the gums can rot, leaving an unpleasant odor. Although bad breath is not usually serious, it can be an indicator of a medical disorder, such as a local infection in the respiratory tract, chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, liver or kidney ailment.

If you’re concerned about your child's bad breath, talk to his or her dentist. He or she can help identify the cause and, if it’s due to an oral condition, develop a treatment plan to help eliminate it.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.