How to tell if you have bad breath

Nobody wants bad breath, and most people who have it may not even know it! Unfortunately, determining if your breath smells is more difficult than it appears. Up to half of all adults have persistent bad breath, and most people may not even be aware of it! In this article we talk about how to tell whether you have bad breath and what to do about it.

Back of the hand test

Lick the back of your hand. Let it dry. Sniff it. For most people with bad breath, the bacteria in your mouth create stinky molecules that linger on your tongue and in your saliva. These can be transferred to a surface like your hand. When these compounds dry, it may be easy to tell if they are stinky.

Ask a friend

Do you have someone who would never lie to you? Tell it to you like it is? That’s the person you should ask! It’s always awkward to request that someone look inside your mouth or smell your breath. Just make sure you're asking the right person. Sometimes another person is also better at pointing out weird things in someones mouth, like white patches, tonsil stones, or bleeding that can be a sign of other oral disease that can cause bad breath.

If you don’t want to ask a friend, ask your dentist. A dentist can examine the air coming from your mouth and nose to determine the cause of any odor. Whatever the conclusion, a dentist will be able to assist you in treating or preventing bad breath in the future.

Sniff your floss

A sign that you have bad breath is if your floss stinks! After flossing, take a quick sniff of the part that went between your teeth. Does it smell? That’s because the bacteria in between your teeth and at your gumline are a major contributor to bad breath. These bacteria are good at making foul smelling compounds. The buildup of these compounds is a sign that you have oral microbiome dysbiosis, and you may be accumulating bacteria in your mouth that can cause gum disease.

Scrape your tongue

Not only are your gums a breeding ground for smelly bacteria, but also the back of your tongue. Some bacteria that colonize the surface of the tongue, such as Solobacterium moorei create volatile sulfur compounds, such as hydrogen sulfide. This is a stinky molecule that causes bad breath. If you use a tongue scraper first thing in the morning, you can gather some of these bacteria onto the scraper. Sniff your tongue scraper, you may be able to tell if you have bad breath.

Get an oral microbiome test

Bad breath is caused by oral microbiome dysbiosis, an imbalance in the bacteria and fungi in your mouth. Normally these bacteria live in a state of homeostasis, which prevents bad ones that cause bad breath from outgrowing the others in the community. Bad breath is an easily solvable condition if you have the data to do it! Some probiotics and oral hygiene regimens are more effective against some bacteria than others. Some bad breath is even caused by fungi. Oral microbiome testing by Bristle can provide insight to address your bad breath, and rebalance the oral microbiome to cure bad breath once and for all.

Oral microbiome testing can also tell you which bacteria in your mouth may contribute to tooth decay, gum inflammation, and many other conditions. The oral microbiome is a major cause of the most common oral health conditions, which are completely preventable when caught early.

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