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Should My Child Use Mouthwash?


Maintaining good oral hygiene is a vital aspect of overall health, and instilling this habit from a young age sets the foundation for a lifetime of dental wellness. Children, like adults, can experience oral health issues such as bad breath or halitosis. While it may seem like a minor concern, addressing bad breath in children is crucial for their social interactions and oral health.

In this article, we will delve into the causes of bad breath in children, explore the safety of using mouthwash, discuss home remedies to combat bad breath, and provide guidance for parents whose children continue to have bad breath despite regular brushing.

What Are the Causes of Bad Breath in Children?

Bad breath, technically known as halitosis, can originate from various sources, and understanding these sources is fundamental to addressing the issue effectively. In children, some common causes of bad breath include:

Poor Oral Hygiene

Insufficient brushing and flossing can lead to food particles and bacteria accumulation in the mouth, resulting in unpleasant odors.

Dry Mouth

Saliva helps cleanse the mouth by neutralizing acids and washing away debris. Reduced saliva flow, often caused by breathing through the mouth or certain medications, can lead to bad breath.

Food Choices

Foods with strong odors, such as garlic and onions, can contribute to bad breath, even in children.

Oral Infections

Infections in the mouth, like cavities or gum disease, can produce foul-smelling breath.

Respiratory Infections

Conditions like colds, sinus infections, or strep throat can lead to bad breath due to increased bacteria activity in the throat.

Tongue Coating

The tongue can harbor bacteria and debris, especially towards the back. A coated tongue is a common source of bad breath.

Tonsil Stones

Small, calcified formations that can develop in the crevices of the tonsils can release unpleasant odors.

Is It Safe for Kids to Use Mouthwash?

The use of mouthwash can be a valuable addition to a child’s oral hygiene routine when used correctly and under the guidance of Dr. Surillo. Therefore, selecting a mouthwash specifically formulated for children and approved by a dental professional is essential. Pediatric mouthwashes typically have lower levels of active ingredients and are designed to be gentle on children’s mouths. So, when choosing a mouthwash for your child, consider the following factors:

Fluoride Content

Fluoride can help prevent cavities and strengthen tooth enamel. Some pediatric mouthwashes contain fluoride, but it’s crucial to ensure that the fluoride concentration is appropriate for your child’s age to prevent overexposure that can lead to fluorosis, causing white spots on teeth.


Children’s mouthwash should be alcohol-free. Alcohol can be harsh on delicate oral tissues and may not be suitable for kids.

Kid-Friendly Flavor

Mouthwashes come in various flavors that can make the experience more enjoyable for children, encouraging them to use them regularly.


Parents should always supervise their children while using mouthwash to ensure they use the correct amount and prevent swallowing it.

Mouthwash can effectively reduce bad breath by helping to kill bacteria and freshen the mouth. However, don’t forget your kid must use it with regular brushing, flossing, and dental checkups.

What Are Some Home Remedies to Fight Bad Breath?

In addition to using mouthwash, there are several home remedies that parents can encourage to help children maintain fresh breath and healthy, clean teeth. To combat the risk of tooth decay and its accompanying foul odor, parents should emphasize the following oral hygiene practices:

Proper Brushing and Flossing

Teaching children how to brush and floss effectively is crucial. They should brush their teeth at least twice daily for two minutes using fluoride toothpaste. Indeed, fluoride is a powerful tool in preventing tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel and reducing the risk of cavities. Also, parents must monitor their children during flossing for effective removal of food particles and plaque.

“Remember to guide your little one in brushing and flossing and create a routine that makes it fun with songs, dances, or tales about the superpowers they have to combat harmful bacteria, so they eagerly wait for teeth brushing time.” 

Fluoride Mouthwash

Consider using alcohol-free mouthwashes containing fluoride if appropriate for your child’s age. These mouthwashes can help strengthen teeth and reduce harmful oral bacteria.


Ensure your child drinks plenty of water throughout the day. Water helps wash away food debris and encourages saliva production, which aids in neutralizing acids and maintaining a healthy oral environment.

Healthy Diet

Limit sugary foods and drinks to your child’s diet. Sugary treats and drinks are favorite targets for harmful oral bacteria that produce acids, contributing to tooth decay. Opt for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to promote dental health. A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help prevent bad breath. Also, foods like apples and carrots can help clean teeth naturally.

Regular Dental Visits

Schedule routine dental checkups for your child. Professional cleanings and fluoride treatments offered during dental appointments can significantly enhance dental health and reduce the risk of tooth decay. It also allows Dr. Surillo to identify and address oral health issues contributing to bad breath.

What to Do if My Child Has Bad Breath Even After Brushing Their Teeth?

Even after meticulous tooth brushing, persistent bad breath in children can indicate underlying oral health issues, some of which might carry severe consequences if left untreated. Understanding the potential dangers associated with tooth decay and cavities sheds light on why bad breath might persist despite a child’s best efforts to maintain oral hygiene habits. Addressing these issues promptly can alleviate foul odors and contribute to overall dental health and well-being. So, if you have revised and followed all the recommendations mentioned above, visiting Dr. Surillo is critical to refining the focal point causing a pathology.

The Link Between Tooth Decay and Bad Breath in Kids

One of the primary culprits of chronic bad breath in children is tooth decay. Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, occurs due to the breakdown of tooth structures by harmful bacteria that thrive on food debris, especially sugars. The presence of these bacteria leads to plaque formation, a sticky film that coats teeth. If left unchecked, this plaque buildup can erode tooth surfaces, creating cavities and gum disease.

Tooth decay poses a significant risk to a child’s dental health, affecting both baby and permanent teeth. In its early stages, tooth decay can manifest as white spots on the teeth, indicating enamel demineralization. Over time, these white spots can progress to cavities, causing discomfort and potential complications. Not only does untreated tooth decay harm oral health, but it can also impact a child’s overall well-being, leading to pain, difficulty eating, and even interfering with speech development.

Addressing Persistent Bad Breath: When to Seek Professional Help

Professional dental cleanings can effectively remove plaque buildup and tartar, helping to eliminate odor-causing bacteria. Moreover, a dentist can identify oral health issues contributing to bad breath, providing targeted solutions and recommendations. These dental checkups play a vital role in maintaining healthy teeth and fresh breath.

However, if your child’s bad breath persists despite following these oral hygiene practices, it’s crucial to consult  Dr. Surillo. Persistent bad breath might indicate more than poor oral hygiene—it could reveal an underlying issue such as gum disease, mouth sores, or even chronic diseases.

Experience Smiles that Sparkle: Schedule Your Child’s Dental Adventure Today!

The adventure toward your child’s vibrant smile and lasting oral health has never been so heartwarming and fulfilling. At Dr. Surillo’s Children’s Braces & Dentistry, we believe every smile promises confidence, joy, and a bright future. Serving the communities of El Cajon, La Mesa, La Santee, and Spring Valley, we’re committed to providing five-star pediatric dental care in an environment where your child feels safe, comfortable, and cared for.

Our dedicated team understands young patients’ unique needs, ensuring every visit is an exciting adventure. From those first precious baby teeth to the confident grin of adolescence, we’re here to guide your child every step of the way. Focusing on preventive care, gentle treatments, and nurturing interactions, we create an atmosphere where dental appointments become cherished memories.

Join Us in Crafting a Lifetime of Healthy Smiles!

Are you ready to give your child the gift of a dazzling smile and a solid dental foundation? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Surillo’s Children’s Braces & Dentistry today. Let’s start this adventure together, creating smiles that sparkle with happiness, confidence, and the promise of a brighter tomorrow. Your child’s dream smile begins here – contact us now!