Bad Breath in Toddlers – Causes, Home Remedies and Tips to Deal With

5 min read

Written by Tarasha Chandra

Tarasha Chandra

Bad breath in toddlers

If you think bad breath is a condition that only bothers adults, think again. Bad breath or halitosis can affect the toddlers and kids as well. If you notice your bad breath in toddlers, then it’s time to impart a lesson in the importance of dental hygiene. As, oral hygiene is an important part of the overall health as well.

Bad breath can stem from poor dental hygiene. Proper brushing of teeth and cleaning the tongue results in healthy gums and teeth and prevents bad breath as well. Besides oral hygiene, there are many other causes and ways to prevent bad breath. Here we provide you an insight into the how, why, and what behind bad breath in toddlers.

In This Article

How Common is Bad Breath in Toddlers?

Bad breath is a very common problem in toddlers. Poor dental hygiene is the most prevalent reason behind it. Bad breath in toddlers doesn’t have to become a big deal. Parents don’t have to obsess about it and turn it into a big issue. When one notices an excessive smell coming from the toddler’s mouth, it is best to educate them on proper brushing and cleaning, and visit a dentist if required.

Top Causes of Bad Breath in Toddlers

Bad oral hygiene causes bad breath in toddlers

Our mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria. This is true not only for toddlers but for people of all ages. The bad breath is a result of this bacterial growth. However, there maybe other reasons for a toddler’s bad breath as well, like-

1. Dry Mouth

Saliva plays an important role in keeping the bacterial growth in check and eliminating the odor causing bacteria from the mouth. But sometimes, things like breathing by mouth, use of pacifiers, certain medicines, finger sucking, etc. can cause dryness of the mouth. This will then result in bad breath.

2. Poor Dental Hygiene

This is one of the most common causes of bad breath in toddlers. As they are not big enough to clean and rinse their mouth properly, parents should keep a close watch on their brushing habits. Improper brushing can cause plaque buildup inside the mouth. This in turn leads to bacterial growth, which causes bad breath.

3. Eating Habits

Certain vegetables like garlic, onion, and some strong spices can leave the toddler’s mouth smelly. Also, foods like cheese, red meat, fish, eggs, can make the breath smell bad.

4. Infections and Diseases

Toddler’s bad breath or halitosis can also be a result of some underlying infection or disease. Infections like sinus or tonsils can lead to bad breath. Some rare diseases such as diabetes, stomach infections, kidney failure, liver problems, and cancer of the mouth can also cause bad breath in toddlers. Acid reflux is another medical condition that can lead to bad breath.

5. Dental Diseases

Gum diseases and tooth decay can also cause bad breath in toddlers. If your little one has cavities, it should be given immediate attention.

[Read : Toddler Tooth Decay Treatment]

6. Medications

Certain medicines that your little one is taking may also result in bad breath.

7. Foreign Object in Nose

If your toddler has got something stuck in their nose like a food particle or a bead etc. then also they may get bad breath. If this is the case then the tiny tot may have foul-smelling, green discharge from the nose, often from just one nostril. In such a scenario the odor will be quite noticeable.

Home Remedies to Get Rid of Bad Breath in Toddlers

Citrus fruits help in combating bad breath

While nothing can replace good oral hygiene, there are some things that parents can try to get rid of a toddler’s bad breath. Here are some home remedies that can help in preventing bad breath in the little ones-

  • Make your toddler drink lots of water. It will keep the mouth moist and flush out odor causing bacteria from the mouth
  • Avoid giving them processed and sugary foods like chocolates, candies, soft drinks, bakery products etc.
  • Give your toddler a few mint or parsley leaves. It will help to eliminate bad mouth odor
  • Fruits and vegetables like oranges, lemons, figs, strawberries, grapes, apples, celery, spinach, carrots, lettuce, mushrooms, parsley, help in inhibiting the formation of plaque, thus eliminating bad breath
  • You can give them little bit of powdered cardamom for freshening up the breath
  • If your toddler has a habit of sleeping with their mouth open, then you can use a humidifier in their room

[Read : How Much Water Should a Toddler Drink in a Day?]

Top 5 Tips to Help You Deal With Bad Breath in Toddlers

Teach your toddler good oral hygiene like brushing regularly

Bad breath in toddlers may be due to a number of reasons. Although it is nothing to be worried about, still it is better to find out the exact cause and do something about it.

Here are top 5 important tips that can help you deal with your toddler’s bad breath-

  • Make sure your toddler is brushing their teeth at least twice in a day. Supervise them, if you feel they cannot do it properly by themselves
  • In addition to brushing the teeth, ensure that they clean their tongue as well
  • Use little bit of toothpaste while brushing
  • Once their bottom and top teeth start touching each other, it is a good idea to floss as well. This will help to eliminate food particles stuck between the teeth and prevent plaque formation
  • Schedule regular visits to the dentist to help develop the habit of good oral hygiene in your toddler

[Read : Teaching Your Toddler To Brush His Teeth]

When Should You Consider Consulting a Doctor?

Normally, bad breath may be transient. Meaning it will be there in the morning after waking up, but will go away after brushing or eating breakfast. However, if your toddler’s bad breath continues for a longer time, then it is advisable to consult the doctor. Correct diagnosis and proper treatment may be required depending upon the duration of the problem.

Like adults, toddlers too, face the problem of bad breath. It is a very common problem, and usually it is not a cause of concern. Inculcating good oral hygiene habits can help to keep a check on a toddler’s bad breath. The key to ensuring good habits in your toddler is following a regular routine and following it consistently.


1. Can Sinus Infection and Tonsils Cause Bad Breath in Toddlers?

Yes, both sinus infection and tonsils can cause bad breath. Sinus infection may result in production of mucus which has a foul smell. Tonsil problem also causes production of gooey material from the glands which can cause bad breath.

2. What Foods Should I Avoid to Help My Toddler With Bad Breath?

Pungent foods like onions and garlic trigger bad breath. So, if these foods are given in limited quantities, prevention of bad breath is possible.

3. Can I Use Mouthwash For My Toddler With Bad Breath?

No. As per the American Dental Association, one should not use mouthwash for kids under the age of six. So, one cannot use mouthwash for toddlers or babies.

Read Also: Body Odor in Toddlers – Is it Normal and Tips to Prevent

Tarasha Chandra,PGDPM

She loves to dance, listen to music, cook, and read in her free time. She is transparent, intuitive, quick-witted, and loves to spend time with her near and dear ones. She believes in taking each day as it comes.Read more.

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