He’s coming to talk to you. You’ve already made eye contact so you can’t avoid him. He stands very close and you simultaneously attempt to break your own record for holding your breath (which was a pitiful 17 seconds on your last count). As he emits his toxic breath he is using all the dreaded syllables in the English vocabulary: ‘Hey!…How are you! What of the family? …fantastic!” You’re almost beginning to lose consciousness and you’re desperately looking around the office to see if there is any colleague who can bail you out – but to no avail. You make up some excuse in order to be…excused – you just told a lie…but it was worth it. You breathe a sigh of relief and paranoia kicks in as you start checking if your own breath stinks.
We’ve all been there. The problem is that some culprits don’t even know they have bad breath (Where’s a pack of Altoids when THEY need one???). Would you blame their family? friends? colleagues? I wouldn’t. It’s your personal responsibility to be hygienic. Sadly, hygiene is also a choice. I’m not aware of any law imposed in any country that says you must brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day or face the
Electric Dentist’s chair. Babies are not born with bad breath nor is it inherited in the genes. Bad breath (or Halitosis) however is a serious condition which if left untreated can have the following consequences:
- A (drastic) drop in ‘face-to-face’ friends (Figures in social sites in Facebook and Twitter can be misleading)
- Remaining a singleton (and narrowing your choice of partners to only those with a bad sense of smell)
- Unwanted accolades that you may never hear about (because they’re said behind your back e.g. Dragon Breath)
Sometimes it may not necessarily be a medical condition. It might just be that the sufferer doesn’t clean or brush his tongue properly (and it has to be all the way to the back!), he/she may just have a stubborn piece of food e.g. meat stuck in their teeth for over a day, and even bleeding gums (symptom of Gingivitis) could cause a real stinker. Interestingly, Healthjockey.com claims that bad breath is caused by stomach ulcer bacteria. Never fear! Help is at hand…
Mouthwash should never be underestimated, though natural remedies (like consuming lime squeezed in water or eating fresh yoghurt regularly) are recommended by some medical experts. Sweets, chewing gum and strong mints are temporary solutions which may mask bad breath for a while but risk morphing it into a potential nuclear weapon of mass destruction. But the best personal advise I can give is to get a medium/hard toothbrush and brush your tongue and teeth properly twice a day. By all means seek medical advice from your dentist.
Finally, how would you tell someone he or she has bad breath? This is one of many questions that has baffled experts and philosophers for decades (nah, I’m just kidding…for centuries). Well, there has not been any conclusive answers so far but may I suggest subtle hints like:
- Offering chewing gum, sweets or mints (and tactfully insisting on them accepting the offer even when they refuse)
- Asking them what they just ate (and hoping that their answer would prompt you to say that you can still smell it)
- Chipping in your conversation that you are seeing the dentist soon (then asking them when their next visit will be)
Do let me know your experiences with bad breath mongers. Let’s join hands in making this world a safer place to breathe in. In the words of Bugs Bunny, ‘That’s all folks’