How To Smell Your Own Breath: Quick Self Tests That Work

How To Smell Your Own Breath: Quick Self Tests That Work

Ali Fadakar -

Smelling your own breath before meeting up with someone might sound a little like a movie cliche, but don't worry, everybody does it. When you're about to walk into a restaurant for a date or are meeting up with friends somewhere, it's only natural to do a quick hygiene check. You may stop in front of a mirror and fix your hair or cup your hand over your mouth for a quick sniff test -- everyone needs a little bit of reassurance that you look as good as you feel.

If it’s never occurred to you before, we'll be the ones to say it: breath matters. 

Even if you don't plan on kissing anyone (and you never know!), most people sit close enough that bad breath could put a real damper on the situation. A close friend or family member may tell you to pop in a breath mint, but most people will just try to deal with it or subtly move a seat space away.

Let’s just be honest -- you don't want to be the person with bad breath. That's why we're here with some quick self-tests that will help you gauge whether or not you need a quick mint before you give that presentation or shake hands with someone for the first time. 

Breath Tests

Okay, so we know that the standard “breathe into your hand and sniff” method isn't going to cut it. But what are you supposed to do instead? It can be hard to check your breath when you're out and about furtively. 

Not to worry. We have you (and your breath) covered! The following are some common breath tests that can give you a more definitive answer than just breathing into your hand.

The Mask

Although not new to many people who have spent time living in parts of Asia, the coronavirus introduced most Americans to the concept of wearing facemasks regularly during the pandemic. 

You may be wondering whether the mask is a better way to tell if you are suffering from halitosis than breathing into your hand, and it is, marginally. 

While some people still can't smell anything after breathing into a mask for hours on end, others have distinctly noticed that it's different smelling a cloth mask than your hands after you have breathed on them.

If you are worried about having mask breath, give our Mask-Mouth Kit a try so you won't have to worry when it's time to take the mask off at the end of the day.

The Wrist

This will sound strange, but licking your wrist is a good way to tell if you need to brush your teeth. 

Your tongue is actually responsible for 85% of your breath's smell, not your teeth. 

Your tongue has layers of bacteria and food particles building upon it during the day, so it's no wonder it can get smelly. Plus, you know how people spritz perfume on their wrists when they want to smell it? Your wrists don't come into contact with other things nearly as much as your hands, so when you smell your wrist, you can be sure that what you're smelling is your breath, not something you touched.

Lick your wrist and then give it a few seconds to dry before smelling it. 

You might be surprised by how different your breath smells from a lick to breathing into a mask or your cupped hands. Just be mindful of where your wrist has been, especially if you haven’t had a chance to wash up in a while. 

The Spoon

If you are anxious about your tongue, the cause for most people's bad breath, you can use a metal spoon to gently scrape over your tongue. 

You don't have to reach extremely far back, and we don't recommend this technique if you have an especially sensitive gag reflex, but sniffing that spoon afterward can give you an idea of what your breath smells like. 

Keep in mind that the spoon will smell stronger than your breath does because you're sniffing concentrated bacteria, saliva, and food particles. In fact, your breath might not actually smell bad at all, even if the spoon is a little weird smelling. 

And a word of advice, make sure to wash that spoon thoroughly after the test!

Just Ask Someone

The most reliable way to know if your breath smells bad is to ask someone else. It isn't a self-test, but it is something to try as a last resort if you need a second opinion. 

Unfortunately, many people don't have someone willing to stand there while you breathe in their direction and give you a pass or fail on the sniff test. 

If you have someone who loves you enough to help you out, that's pretty cool, and you should listen to them. Also, thank them afterward, especially if your breath turns out to be less than fresh.

Why It's Hard To Smell Your Own Breath

Halitosis, the scientific name for bad breath, should be pretty easy to detect, right? Well, not necessarily. See, our noses are good at recognizing new or powerful smells, but after you get used to smelling something all the time, you may not notice it very much at all.

Whether or not anyone has ever called you a mouth-breather, you have definitely breathed through your mouth often enough for your nose to get used to your own breath's smell.

Even if you breathe into your cupped hand and sniff it, you might not be able to smell anything.

Your breath may be minty fresh and delightful, but if you’ve touched anything strange or have a small piece of food stuck under one of your fingernails, you may think that it's your breath that smells when you're actually smelling your hand. 

More often, though, people who have less than pleasant breath can't tell because they can't smell anything weird. That's why it's important to have other types of breath tests for when you're on the go.

How To Freshen Your Breath

The best way to get better breath is to brush your teeth (and tongue) at least twice a day for two-minute stints. 

However, some days, you may not feel like that is enough. 

Some people who have dry mouths find that their breath is still susceptible to smelling bad, even when they have been conscientious about their dental hygiene. That may be because your toothbrush head needs to be replaced. Even if you rinse it thoroughly, it is still being used to remove food, bacteria, and plaque, so it gets dirty and should be replaced around every six months. Flossing is easier because you usually throw away the floss after use, but if your toothbrush has a flosser, you will need to change that out too.

You should also consider your diet. We're not here to tell you what you should and shouldn't eat because, let's face it, food is just an adventure we cannot say no to! 

But it's worth knowing that food like garlic and onions do tend to cause pretty noxious breath. Heavily spiced food can do the same thing. 

So, for the sake of others, maybe forgo the extra onions on your burger if you're about to go into an important meeting at work or have a hot date later.

Another great tip is to try drinking more water. 

Being hydrated is great for many reasons, but the more water you move through your mouth, the more diluted the food particles and bacteria become. Often, mild bad breath can be caused by dehydration, so drinking more may be the perfect solution.

Don't Forget the Tongue

As we’ve mentioned, one of the biggest causes of bad breath is the build-up of plaque and other bacteria on the back of your tongue. Most people give their tongue a few swipes when they're brushing their teeth, but if you are suffering from bad breath, you might want to invest in a tongue scraper. 

Our Ripple Edge Tongue Cleaner gently and thoroughly swipes away the bacteria and food particles, so you won't have to worry about running something rough over your sensitive tongue because this tongue cleaner was designed for comfort.

On-the-Go? No Problem!

We weren't kidding about the breath mint, but plenty of dentists recommend chewing special gum as a way to keep your breath smelling minty fresh. 

Additionally, if you're going somewhere really special or you want to stay professional and not be snapping your gum intermittently, you can try our Single-Dose Powdered Mouth Rinse. A single packet mixed with water is easy to make on the go, and it whitens your pearls while it brightens your smile. Simply swish it around and spit it out, and you'll be good to go in seconds. These are even great on the plane if you're going straight to a place from the airport because the packets are TSA-approved.

In Summary

Bad breath doesn't have to be the bane of your existence. With these easy, convenient self-tests, you can check to see if your breath needs a little freshening or if you’re minty fresh just the way you are. 

If you could use a touch-up, pop in a mint, chew some gum, or gargle some mouthwash, and you’ll be smelling (and feeling) fresh in no time at all!