Don't let bad breath ruin your day.

How to Test if Your Breath Smells

by Melissa King

Whether you're headed to a job interview or going out on a date, it's important for your breath to smell fresh and clean. Bad breath, also called halitosis, can have a damaging effect on personal and professional relationships. Breath odor often crops up even if you brush your teeth and practice good dental hygiene. You're used to the way your own mouth smells, so it isn't always easy to tell if your breath has a bad odor. You can check for offensive smells with a few quick tests.

Wash your wrist to remove perfume, cologne or any other scented products. Lick your wrist and wait for about 10 seconds. Smell the licked area. If your wrist smells bad, your breath has a similar odor.

Floss your teeth and then check the floss for blood. Bleeding gums may indicate gum disease, which causes mouth odor. The floss also may smell bad.

Rub the back of your tongue with a cotton swab or toothpick. Wait for about a minute and then smell the object. Your breath generally has the same odor as the object.

Ask a friend or other trusted person if your breath smells. You may find this embarrassing, but it's one of the most reliable tests you can do.

Cup your hand and breathe into it. This is the least reliable way to check for breath odor.

Items you will need

  • Floss
  • Cotton swab or toothpick


  • If your bad breath persists even after brushing, flossing and using mouthwash, you may have a medical condition that requires treatment. For example, some diseases and stomach conditions can cause bad breath.
  • See your dentist at least once per year to get your teeth cleaned, check for cavities and keep bad breath at bay.
  • Certain foods, including cabbage, onions and garlic, will make your breath smell even after brushing your teeth. Drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes also contribute to breath odor.

About the Author

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.

Photo Credits

  • NA/ Images