Can you smell your own breath if its bad? (11/03/24)

Can you smell your own breath if it’s bad?

Bad breath also know as halitosis is or has been a concern for most of us at some point of our lives. Whatever causes the bad breath, it’s impact on one’s confidence can be fairly stressful.

The short answer to the question of whether you can smell your own breath is – no. It’s fairly difficult for a person to smell their own bad breath. Unfortunately it may take someone else to comment or you may just notice a different taste in your mouth.

When it comes to detecting different smells, the nose is an amazing tool for the body but unfortunately not when it comes to smelling our own odours. Our brains are designed to filter the smells we are used to which is known as the  “olfactory adaption”. Think about the scent of your own house – you don’t think your house has a scent but other peoples houses do. Your house does have its own signature scent – you smell it all the time, so your nose filters it out.

Why can’t I smell my own bad breath?

When you breathe out, air comes out from your mouth and any odour from your breath will mix with the surrounding air and away from your nostrils thus making it difficult to smell your own breath. Therefore it’s much harder to smell your own breath the way we easily smell someone else’s.

So how do I know if I have bad breath?

Well in our opinion, in order of reliability:

  1. Most Reliable : Ask someone.

Yes we know it sounds like the worst suggestion in the world BUT it is the only truly reliable way to know for sure. Ask your partner, best friend, family member or even your child (let’s face it, kids can  be brutally honest). Don’t ask after a sip of coffee or after spicy food. Brush your teeth, wait a couple of hours and then ask. You could always ask your Dentist or Dental Hygienist. That way you will get an honest professional and more importantly, confidential opinion.

  • Fairly Reliable: The Lick Test

Ever heard of the Lick and Sniff test? Simply lick your wrist from as far back on the tongue as you can, allow to dry for a few seconds and then sniff. This will give you an idea of what your breath may smell like to others because the compounds in our saliva mimic those found in your breath.

  • Fairly Reliable: Floss and Sniff

Use floss or interdental brushes between the backs of your teeth and then smell the brush or floss. If there is a bad smell coming from the tool, then it could mean you have bad breath causing bacteria in your mouth. We do have a solution to this! Firstly, ensure flossing is a daily part of  your oral routine. Between each tooth, dip the floss into a cap of ProFresh Mouthwash, this not only clears the gunk of your floss or brush, but when you place the tool back between your teeth, the ProFresh Mouthwash will get to work in places that your mouthwash and toothbrush may not reach with simply rinsing or brushing.

  • Not very reliable: The Mirror Test

Most of us at some point have tried the “breathe into your hands and smell trick”. Your breath will disappear very quickly into the surrounding environment and the only way you will notice any odour is if your breath leaves some residue on your hands which we can smell when we sniff our hand. Which is fairly unlikely.

  • Jurys out: Breath Checker

This is a handheld electronic gadget designed to sense VSC’s (Volatile Sulphur Compounds) and produces a parts per billion (PPB) measure of foul smelling compounds. My personal opinion is, that unless your breath is being measured in a professional Dental Clinic using a more sophisticated piece of equipment such as a Halimeter, I would take the readings of a hand held gadget with a pinch of salt.

So the final verdict?

Can you really smell your own breath – not really.  Aside from number 1 – Ask someone – the other methods are not fool proof. So if you think you have bad breath, if you are too embarrassed to ask your friend, family member or partner, book an appointment with a Dentist or Hygienist. They are there to help.

If you want to understand more about bad breath, you may be interested in our blog post on What Does Bad Breath Smell Like which describes the different bad breath odours and their possible causes.

Don’t forget using the ProFresh Mouthwash routine gets rid of bad breath. Even if you don’t have breath issues, ProFresh will keep your mouth in great condition. Find out more about how ProFresh can help you maintain a superior oral care routine.