How to Know If You Have Bad Breath?

How to Know If You Have Bad Breath?

Did your partner complain about your bad breath? Halitosis, aka bad breath, is undoubtedly one of the most embarrassing things, but you are not alone. Studies suggest that 25% of people suffer from it.

Did your partner complain about your bad breath? Halitosis, aka bad breath, is undoubtedly one of the most embarrassing things, but you are not alone. Studies suggest that 25% of people suffer from it.

Although bad breath is a common issue, you probably won’t know you’ve one unless someone tells it to you. It’s difficult to smell your own breath – and nobody can pinpoint the exact reason.

So, how do you improve bad breath and save yourself from embarrassment?

Why is it tricky to smell your own breath?

Scientists pinpoint several reasons why it’s hard to smell your own breath.

Sensory adaptation

Consider this – you are exposed to your breath for 24 hours a day.

It’s why you will notice a significant reduction in your sensitivity to it. It reduces our awareness of a constant stimulus — in this case, the smell of our breath — to redirect our attention to other stimuli around us. This phenomenon applies to all of our five senses.

Natural inability due to human anatomy

The larynx, the opening in the mouth’s back, allows communication between the mouth and nose, causing a natural inability to smell own breath.

Additionally, our nose is just a philtrum’s length above our mouth. When we exhale, the breath comes out of our mouth in the forward direction and not upwards. You cannot inhale and exhale simultaneously- that adds up to why it is tricky to smell your breath.

Can you tell if you have bad breath?

If you are suffering from halitosis, you are most likely to experience foul breath on occasion. The more common the cause is, the more often you will experience it.

Visit an oral healthcare professional should you need it. Dentists can diagnose halitosis and can identify the underlying cause to fix it.

Identifying bad breath by yourself

  1. One of the most common ways to recognize if you have bad breath is breathing in hand and smelling it. The technique might not be 100% accurate, but it is more effective than trying to breathe out directly in your nose.
  2. In case breathing through your hand is not of significant help, you may try another method that can help you manually assess your breath. Try licking the inside of your wrist and smell it. That way, your nose can easily pick up the smell from your skin.

Other ways

  1. Ask someone you trust and who you are comfortable with. Remember, you cannot expect honest opinions from people whom you have met recently.
  2. Smokers, coffee, and alcohol drinkers are more likely to have bad breath than others. If you’ve eaten something with a potent odor, you may be able to smell it too.
  3. There are two common methods that dentists use to detect halitosis or bad breath: These are:
    • The Halimeter Test – measures the volatile sulfur compounds (VSC) level in your breath that occurs due to bacterial overgrowth either in your mouth or in the bowel. This test measures parts per billion of these compounds – you’ve foul breath when the measurements range over 100 parts. You might also like to get one of these test kits home, but take suggestions from your dentist on which product to buy.
    • The Organoleptic Method is more of a manual process by which your dentist will determine if you have smelly breath. The dentist will personally assess how your breath is smelling through a plastic straw to conclude.

What Causes Bad Breath?

What Causes Bad Breath?

Once you have confirmed halitosis, the next step is to find out the underlying cause. This might be even trickier than smelling your breath.

Which habits and diseases cause bad breath? Here are some of the most common causes:

Poor oral hygiene

If you do not brush your teeth or floss regularly, don’t be surprised to know your breath stinks. Some food particles remain between the teeth gaps and start decaying there, causing a foul odor or plaque.


Is your diet contributing to halitosis? Some foods have higher contents of sulfur-producing compounds, like garlic and onions. They can increase the Volatile Sulfur Compound (VSC) level.

Dry mouth

If our mouths are dry over a long period, it can cause increased bacterial growth, causing bad breath. Medical conditions such as diabetes can result in dry mouth, which might be a factor as well.

Gum diseases

Gum diseases like gingivitis happen because of poor brushing habits and oral hygiene. It results in the build-up of plaque and bacteria within teeth, which causes the formation of toxins. In turn, it irritates the gums and results in a foul smell. If this goes untreated, your gums and jawbone may get damaged.

Other factors

Habits like smoking, some specific medications, and certain health conditions such as gastric reflux and sinus infection may also cause bad breath.

The top ways to improve bad breath

Treating halitosis is not that difficult as it may seem. Once you know the cause, you can quickly get rid of lousy breath. Developing healthy habits, though, may be the first thing you should be looking at. Here are some tips to help.

  • Brush and floss your teeth regularly.
  • Use tongue scraper to remove excess bacteria.
  • Use mouthwash to keep it clean.
  • Drink lots of water – a natural way to keep your mouth moist.
  • You may even try chewing gums – especially those containing xylitol, as it helps enhance your saliva production.
  • Quit smoking, as it is also considered a common reason for lousy breath.
  • Avoid certain foods that contain sulfur-producing compounds. Keep a record of what you eat and bringing it to your dentists might be a good idea.


Bad breath or halitosis is more common than you think. If you ever experience a mild lousy breath, do not ignore it.

At Image Dental, we offer advanced oral care solutions suited to your needs. We offer friendly, knowledgeable, and timely service for all our customers.

Contact us to learn more and book an appointment.