Tell someone they have foul breath?
September 9, 2006 4:27 PM   Subscribe

Should I tell someone that they've got extremely bad breath--and if so, how?

Question says it all. Just let it go, or try to help someone out?

I know two people who suffer from this problem. I've dealt with both of them over time, so I know that this was not just a one-off thing. They clearly need to see a dentist or something.

The first is a young lady, beautiful, stylish, and charming. I think we're close enough that I can mention it without offending her, but every time we see each other we're out socializing, and I don't want to bring it up, because it would be a downer.

The second case is an older woman, about 60-ish, who I met recently and may be working with on an ongoing project. She's perfectly qualified, except I can barely stand to be within 3 feet of her. We'll be working with some students, who I'm sure will notice the odor, and I'm afraid this could be a deal-breaker.
posted by Brian James to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just tell them. Might make them hate you but it will be better for you in the end.
posted by delmoi at 4:32 PM on September 9, 2006

Sure. Don't make a big deal about it. Just don't do it in front of anyone else. In the second case, make sure you tell her soon, so she can stop offending people before it is too late.
posted by owhydididoit at 4:32 PM on September 9, 2006

Response by poster: Well, Jamaro mentioned something I had wondered about. Is there any valid reason why someone might have chronic halitosis, apart from just poor oral hygiene?
posted by Brian James at 4:37 PM on September 9, 2006

Sure Brian James, there are all sorts of medical conditions that cause chronic halitosis. Cheif among them are infection and diabetes. Additional options include kidney failure, liver disease and acid reflux just to name a few.
posted by FlamingBore at 5:00 PM on September 9, 2006

When I don't eat anything I get bad breath. Same goes for friends, family. I took FSHN and heard something about ketosis when there is no glycogen/carbohydrates for the body to use, so maybe ketones smell like ass. Maybe not.

Hard to tell when you have bad breath. I would appreciate somebody telling me that I had bad breath, and would not find them rude if they sounded a bit grossed out when they told me. I'm the one with the nasty breath.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 5:20 PM on September 9, 2006

The Atkins diet can cause bad breath.
posted by delmoi at 5:47 PM on September 9, 2006

Smoking and coffee make people reek to high heaven... and they usually can't smell it themselves. Ick.

Just saying because it might not be a medical/dental condition, but more so a "I consume nasty stinky stuff and it makes my breath and body reek" condition.
posted by RoseovSharon at 6:13 PM on September 9, 2006

delmoi - that's ketosis causing the bad breath - not the Atkins diet itself.
posted by FlamingBore at 6:13 PM on September 9, 2006

Give them a mint and tell them they have "coffeebreath." Somehow that sounds better than "bad breath" and chances are they are coffe drinkers and won't get offended.
posted by monkeycool at 7:39 PM on September 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

Some time ago I heard about a mouthwash company that allowed people to send an anonymous note and a free bottle of mouthwash to anyone they thought had halitosis. The closest thing I can find, however, is this.
posted by chickletworks at 8:51 PM on September 9, 2006

I find cheerfully approaching someone after lunch and asking oh, shellfish? rather effective.

especially when they really had salad.
posted by krautland at 12:31 AM on September 10, 2006

Carry mints with you. In the person's presence, conspicuously help yourself to a mint, and then hold out the box with a smile and say, "Want one?" If you're lucky, they'll accept, and if not, your own mint will help make you slightly more immune to the other person's breath.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:56 AM on September 10, 2006

Offer mints and ask the person if your breath is okay. That gets them thinking along the lines of questioning their own breath. I had a friend who needed dental work, and it was bad until the work was done. I was too mortified to say how bad it was; just kept offering the mints.
posted by theora55 at 9:55 AM on September 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

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