Bad breath is no fun…for anyone involved. If you suffer from bad breath (or “halitosis”), you may shy away from speaking freely with friends, family, and coworkers for fear of embarrassment.
If someone around you is suffering from bad breath, it can be unpleasant, and also stressful, too. You may struggle with whether or not to tell them, whether for their good or your own.
Below, we cover how to determine whether you’ve got halitosis, how to tell someone else, and how a dentist can help.
How to Determine If You Have Bad Breath
Most people with offensive breath aren’t even aware that they have it. This may leave you wondering if you, too, suffer from bad breath that everyone — but you — seems to notice. Fortunately, there are ways to self-diagnose halitosis.
The following steps can help you determine if you have bad breath:
- Do a tongue check. Start by taking a look at your tongue. A pink, shiny tongue indicates fresh breath. However, if your tongue is white and scaly, this is a first-line indicator of bad breath.
- Smell check. Smelling your own breath in cupped hands isn’t the most effective way to check yourself. Instead, lick the back of your hand, and let it dry for a few seconds. Then smell the surface of your hand. Any odor may be indicative of what’s going on in your mouth.
- Ask a friend. If you’re still not sure, it may be best to ask others if they’ve noticed any bad breath. Try talking to a family member, significant other or trusted friend. Choose someone you feel would be comfortable enough to tell you the truth.
While you may be appreciative of someone slipping you a stick of gum, many can be highly sensitive about their breath. So if you feel like anything less than a good friend by not breaking the news, here is some advice on how to break it to someone else.
How to Break the News of Bad Breath
If you know someone suffering from halitosis, it can be awkward to confront them. Depending on the situation, you may do best to let it go. Say, a coworker has breath bad enough that it affects you during your morning meeting.
You may want to chew on a breath mint yourself, which will deaden your own sense of smell, and let well enough alone.
If you’re having trouble coping with someone else’s bad breath, though, or are concerned and want to help them avoid embarrassment, the following tips may help you break the news of bad breath:
- Be considerate. Bad breath is a sensitive subject, so it’s important to approach your friend, co-worker or loved one with sensitivity and respect. Avoid teasing or joking, or just blurting out “You have bad breath!”
- Broach the subject gently and casually. To be safe, approach the subject casually by saying something neutral such as “I noticed a problem and wasn’t sure if you were aware,” or “I noticed a problem and want to make sure you’re OK.”
- Talk in private. If you’ve noticed someone else’s bad breath, chances are that other people around you have too. This doesn’t mean you should have this conversation in front of others! Find somewhere private to talk, like a car ride or an afternoon walk.
- Relate with your own struggle. It can help to let the other person know that they’re not alone in their bad breath woes. If you struggle with bad breath, share this. Sharing how you deal with your bad breath may also be helpful, but try to avoid lecturing.
Whatever you decide to do, the most important thing is your approach. Easy does it. Either way, a trip to the dentist can help anyone get rid of bad breath for good.
How a Florida Dentist Can Help With Bad Breath
Many oral health issues can cause halitosis including dry mouth, periodontal disease, and tooth decay. Your dentist will check out your oral health, and treat or rule out any of these causes. Dentists are taught in dental school about the condition, and how to treat it.
If the odor is due to plaque and odor-causing bacteria, your dentist may recommend a thorough cleaning, and use of special antimicrobial toothpaste or mouthwash designed to kill odor-causing bacteria.
If your dentist rules out oral causes, he or she will refer you to your family doctor, who can help address medical issues — for example, acid reflux or sinus problems. Certain diets such as the popular ketogenic diet, can also cause bad breath temporarily.
Because halitosis can be an indication of underlying dental or medical health issues, whatever the cause, it’s important you talk with a professional as soon as you can.
Depending on the root issue, there are a number of simple options that can help you (or your loved one) overcome this all-too-common problem quick.