Does bad breath (halitosis) affect children differently than adults?

Tom Berry
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
The cause of bad breath in adults and children is generally the same, poor oral hygiene. The treatment would be the same beginning with the routine of twice daily brushing of the teeth and tongue and daily flossing. Also schedule regular dental visits for professional teeth cleanings twice yearly.

Bad breath (halitosis) affects children in the same way as an adult. They may be affected socially, especially as teenagers. Some of the causes of bad breath are the same for adults and children. There may be other causes, such as an object stuck in the nasal cavity. This only affects younger children.

Peggy Rosen

Bad breath (halitosis) affects children the same way it affects adults because the causes of bad breath come from the same sources. Some of the common causes of bad breath are:

  1. Cavities in children’s teeth due to bacterial action on food remaining around the teeth
  2. Indigestion; food that cannot be digested becomes rotten creating foul odors, the odor will be released during breathing
  3. Gum disease
  4. Constipation
  5. Systemic diseases
Bad breath (halitosis) is an unpleasant condition that can be cause for embarrassment in both children and adults. If children don't brush and floss daily, particles of food 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. Maintaining good oral health is essential. Be sure to schedule regular dental visits for your child and if you think he has constant bad breath, keep a log of the foods he eats and make a list of medications.

If you’re concerned about your child's breath, take him to the dentist. Your child's dentist can help identify the cause and, if it’s due to an oral condition, develop a treatment plan to help eliminate it. Make sure your child brushes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove food debris and plaque.

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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.