Believe it or not, people with bad breath, especially chronic bad breath, may not even be aware of the problem.

Most People Who Have Bad Breath Don’t Know It

Some research suggests that our brain automatically filters out triggers or receptors that it deems to be non-threatening through a process called sensory adaptation. According to this theory, our nose may filter out any bad smells coming from the mouth because we have grown accustomed to our own odors. That’s because our oral cavities are connected to our noses through an opening in the back of our mouths.

Why Can’t We Smell Our Own Breath?

If someone is unaware of their bad breath, there are a couple possible reasons why. One is social stigma. Many people may have noticed that their oral health isn’t optimal or that conditions in their mouths feel different or abnormal. However, many people may be too embarrassed to ask a loved one if the problem needs to be addressed. Another possible reason is our natural inability to actually smell our own breath, caused by an opening in the back of the mouth behind the soft palate, called the pharynx, which connects it to the nose.

Illustration of a smile

So How Can I Tell?

It is very likely that you’ll experience mild bad breath on occasion, given how common the causes are. If you have concerns about chronic bad breath or halitosis, try asking a loved one or schedule an appointment with your dentist. Oral healthcare professionals cannot only diagnose bad breath, but are trained to help accurately identify the underlying cause.

Are You a Smoker?

An array of health issues, one of them being bad breath. If you smoke or chew tobacco, you could be suffering from foul breath odors.

Coffee or Alcohol Drinker?

Coffee and alcohol both make your mouth prone to bad breath. If you habitually consume either of them, there’s a good chance your breath isn’t as fresh as you’d like.

Oral Health Issues

Many common oral problems are likely to contribute to bad breath. So if you have an existing condition, like gum disease, open wounds, sinus/oral infection, or respiratory problems, have a loved one or dentist see if it’s also causing bad breath odors.