How Do I Inform Someone Nicely About His/ Her Very Bad Breath?

Learn how to break bad news in a nice way for people you love

By Sameet
How Do I Inform Someone Nicely About His/ Her Very Bad Breath?

Self-Image and Bad Breath

We all know how unpleasant it can be to sit and talk with someone who has a putrid breath. But hey, it’s not like they’re doing it on purpose. Sure there are some people who are totally off about the basic ethic of hygiene but some might have a health issue underlying which they are totally unaware. First you tolerate that person for a while but later it becomes hard to keep a straight face too. Now imagine if it’s you having a bad breath that totally ruins it for you without you even knowing. Whoever the person, whatever the reason, bottom line, it’s bad.


Everyone knows how much hard work is put up to build the perfect image, the perfect reputation. Even if it’s community work, helping out the society, being a famous celebrity or a business tycoon. The moment someone opens their mouth and has an unpleasant smell, there goes everything. Even if that person is looking well dressed, clean and presentable, bad breath changes EVERYTHING.

How tell if you have a bad breath

Nobody wants it obviously, but there can come careless times when you forgot to pay attention to this. And you cannot expect people, even close ones to tell you about your bad breath. People stay quiet out of courtesy and they’re simply being considerate. There will be some who will judge you, but some that will just let it go because they know it’s not a usual thing.

If you really want to know, you can ask someone you can trust, if not then there are some tactics. One is to lick your wrist, let it dry and then sniff. Another is to smell your dental floss after using it. Or you can also try out a tongue scraper then smell it after using.

Causes of Bad Breath


Don’t just go on and judge someone for having a bad breath, there could be problem that they don’t know about. And this will help you take care of your oral hygiene too.

Poor Dental Hygiene

It’s simple as that, if you don’t brush and floss daily and properly, food particles will keep rotting there in your mouth forming the smelly, colorless plaque where bacteria can grow. The tongue needs well cleansing too because it too can catch such odor causing bacteria.


All products containing Tobacco are notorious for causing a variety of oral health problems. Out of these, unpleasant mouth odor is a guaranteed one. Whether it is smoking or chewing, you are putting your mouth and general health in great danger. Tobacco’s own smell isn’t very appealing so imagine mixed up with bacteria.

Dry Mouth

Some people aren’t aware of his but dry mouth is very important in causing bad breath. Drinking less water, heavy exercises, sleeping or travelling a lot, breathing through the mouth when sick. All these factors keep your mouth dry as your body slows down saliva production. So drink up, people.

Medical Conditions

Medically bad breath is referred to as ‘Halitosis’ which can be caused due to a number of diseases like a gum infection (gingivitis), yeast infection (candidiasis), acidity (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and whatnot. So it’s better to consult your dentist if the bad breath problem persists.

How to Inform Someone on His/Her Bad Breath

Indeed this can be a hard thing to do, especially when someone close to you is concerned. They will be worried about how you perceived them due to this situation, but surely they will be glad that you felt close and responsible enough to break this subject.

Your Partner

It’s okay to feel repelled from your partner if they smell bad. Obviously these things are a great deal in intimacy and you cannot force your way into it. There’s no easy way to convey such a thing because it can sting so you’ll need to be as gentle as possible. But know this that it’s better for your partner that they hear it from you (because of the love and trust) than any other random person.

Breaching the subject

The way to do it is with a soft start-up. You can do this by telling your partner about the way you feel and the things you need. This will minimize the chances for your partner to feel attacked or threatened. Start off your sentences mildly talking about yourself and the things you would love to have added in the relationship.

Showing concern

After initiating, tell your partner that you’re concerned about this matter and don’t want anyone else telling them this. Maybe you’ll find out some cause behind it, like lack of attention, some habits, or maybe a medical condition. Show them that you understand and would like to help out, also this is a way to protect your partner from social embarrassment.

Your Best Friend

Of course you and your best friend would have that level of frankness so you can talk about literally ANYTHING. Simply saying that “here, have a mint” can be okay and they will appreciate it.

Find the perfect moment

Sometimes it’s the little things that can hurt without even realizing. So even talking to them, don’t be blunt, don’t insult them, and don’t make fun of them. Your best chance to tell them would be when both of you are in a good mood and spending the whole day together. The best way is to initiate the conversation with something like “Please tell me frankly whenever you think my breath is bad” or “I rely on you with these personal and social aspects”. The when they agree, you can mention some day you felt that but hesitated in telling.

Your Parents

Your parents already have a lot on their minds, they often forget to take care of themselves. By telling them something like this, you are taking off a burden and helping them out. There is no way your parents will mind something like this, but feel more close to you. The best time to show this concern is when you’re going out to a gathering or inviting some friends or family over. Simply tell them if they need to take care of this.

Colleagues and Boss

With colleagues, it might be easier but certainly not with your boss. You need a very careful set of words to tell that to them. For your colleagues, it’s a sign of concern as they have to be present with you everywhere. Whether it’s meetings, or carrying out a project or assignment together, it can be really hard so you have to break the news to them.

Dropping hints

Being direct isn’t always the best option with certain people, so it is a good idea to drop some hints. You can offer them a piece of gum, which is a great hint and polite too. If they don’t get it the first time, it’s good to keep getting them mints and gum that specifically mention word like ‘fresh breath’ etc.

Be direct but gentle

If they are not following, you just have to be direct, but this doesn’t always mean to say it in front of everyone and in a casual way. Take them aside where no one can hear. Start off as “I am concerned… I had to ask you for your own good… I noticed…” etc. Apart from that you can suggest a good oral hygiene product or a local dentist.

For the Boss

As for the boss, keep things light. You never know when your boss is in a bad mood and things turn backwards on you. For example your boss has to address or meet some important people, it is okay to go to him/her separately and ask them to freshen their breath (with a spray, mint etc.) without mentioning that they stink. And take one for yourself too. It’s a great way and makes sense because it’s for their own good. They will keep it in mind for the future and be thankful to you.

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All it takes is some luck and a good choice of words and attitude to convey anything you want. Everyone understands that these things make up a sensitive issue and you’re lucky if you have someone by your side to rely on these things for.