What are some of the most common causes of bad breath?

I commonly get asked by parents why their child’s breath smell bad. They’ve often already ruled out dietary causes – so what else can cause bad breath?

The most common cause of bad breath I come across is due to poor oral hygiene. Not only is it important to brush twice a day and floss once a day, but doing so with correct technique is critical. Plaque which is not adequately removed can also calcify and become ‘calculus’ – often called tartar which cannot be removed by brushing alone (it needs to be cleaned professionally at your dentist). Not only can the plaque and tartar smell bad, it will lead to gum disease – sometimes causing irreversible damage.

Therefore, if your child has bad breath it is worth making an appointment with your dentist for a check up and clean to remove all the plaque and tartar. Your dentist or oral health therapist/hygienist can also assess brushing and flossing technique and give appropriate recommendations to maintain good oral hygiene.

Other non-dental conditions can also cause bad breath – such as reflux, diabetes and respiratory infections. If oral hygiene has been ruled out then see your GP who can diagnose and treat these issues.