How to Smell Your Own Breath to See If You Have Bad Breath

Ask Someone You Trust

It may feel awkward to ask someone to look inside your mouth or smell your breath and give you feedback. Just make sure it’s an appropriate person to ask, like a partner or family member. You can try asking someone you’re close with to take a peek at the inside of your mouth to see if they notice a white coating on the back of your tongue, a common sign of bacteria that causes bad breath.

If you’re too embarrassed to ask a friend, you can always ask your dentist. A dentist can assess the air from your mouth and nose to find the source of any odor. Whatever the outcome, a dentist will be able to help you treat or prevent bad breath from happening in the future.

There are changes to the texture and consistency

When you unscrew the lid on a carton of milk, the white liquid should appear smooth and free of any particles. If you open up a gallon of milk and notice clumps and curdling, it’s time to toss it out.

Why does this happen? As Labuza explains, it all has to do with enzymes in the milk reacting with one another.

“If the milk is bad, it will curdle. It’s spoiling because the microbes produce certain enzymes,” said Labuza. Milk is mostly composed of fat, protein, and sugar. “The acid produced by the organisms will cause the milk to precipitate out and curdle.”

Noting the texture is important.


Dealing With Bad Breath 

After all of this talk about identifying bad breath, it would be downright criminal to refrain from giving you advice on defeating your breath. Yes, you already know how to pop a breath mint, and you just learned about rinsing your mouth, but we can add some useful knowledge to this pool. And, don’t worry. We have more for you than just telling you to brush your teeth.

Brush Your Teeth

Did you just roll your eyes? You think you already know all about brushing your teeth, huh? Let’s see. If you plan to brush your teeth after every meal, you’re wrong. Dentists will tell you that brushing after eating is a good way to fight disease, but that short answer skips something important. You should wait a while between eating and brushing. Otherwise, you can actually worsen tooth problems related to eating sugars and/or acids. Boom. We promised more than just telling you to brush.

Aside from that, there are a few more brushing tips that will help a little extra with battling bad breath:

  • Time your sessions. Electric brushes do this for you, and it makes a big difference. If you’re still manual, just use a timer. You’ll understand after the first time. Remember, you want to scrub for two minutes.
  • Get deep. Bad breath holes up in the back of your mouth. You have to get deep on the tongue, cheeks, and gums to kill it. You might have to battle your gag reflex to make this happen.
  • Brush after exercise. You may not want to brush right after eating, but brushing after a workout is important. Vigorous exercise increases mucus production, and that contributes to bad breath.

Find the Root Cause

Sometimes, ad hoc mouth care isn’t enough. Persistent bad breath is a thing, and you can trust that there’s always a root cause. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a few allergies. Other times, it can be an indicator of an oral infection. You can’t hope to master your breath unless you know what’s driving the problem.

Here’s the point. You need to play Nancy Drew and get to the bottom of your bad breath. Some issues will be overwhelmingly obvious, but others can be tricky. If you can’t solve it alone, talk to your dentist; this is something they really care about since breath is a major clue for oral health. A simple chat could lead to common, friendly advice, but it also might help you catch something important. Never leave the medical team out when you don’t smell right. That’s advice to live by.

Drink a Glass of Water

The last tip is the easiest and friendliest. If ri

The last tip is the easiest and friendliest. If rinsing your mouth can help with bad breath, so can drinking a little water. As we’ve already learned, dry mouth is a contributor to halitosis. The easiest way to combat dry mouth is to drink water. It’s not exactly rocket science.

The point of including this advice is to highlight a few things. You’re not always in a situation where detailed oral care is an option. Sometimes, breath mints and gum are out of the question. But, as a functioning adult, water should always be available. Drinking it down immediately hydrates your mouth, and it gives your body what you need to maintain that hydration.

If you’re in such a dire situation that you can’t even get water to deal with your breath, then you don’t need to be worried about a stinky mouth. You’re in survival mode. So, the simple lesson is this. Never overlook the power of a glass of water when your mouth is gross. At the very least, it’ll dilute the problem and make your other treatments more effective. 

Congratulations. You’ve learned how to identify and treat bad breath. From this day forward, you have no excuse to ever punish someone for being downwind of your respiration. You know what is necessary to make sure you’re always ready for a little intimate closeness, and you can share this good advice with that friend who needs it. Maybe we should discuss subtlety and tact in a later blog. You’ll probably need help learning how to breach this topic without being too blunt. Until then, an honest friend is a good friend. Just send them the link and hope that they’ll pay attention. Now, let’s explore why you should invest in a great travel body wash next.


#4 Spoon scrape test

Scrape your tongue all the way from the back to the tip with a spoon. Smell the spoon thereafter to get your result, it sits in the spoon. For hygiene-sake, seal the spoon in a plastic bag before using it for this purpose.  This method is one of the most effective methods you can use to check if you have a smelling mouth apart from asking a friend.

Debunking Sniff Tests

So, you can’t just sniff your own breath to tell if it’s bad. Still, we need to know when we’re in danger of clearing a room. There are a lot of tests out there that are supposed to help you spot your halitosis. Many of them don’t really work, so we’re going to spend a few minutes debunking them together. If you’ve been paying attention, you should be able to spot some problems right away. Maybe we should have a test at the end.

Breathe in Your Hand

This is the classic. You cup your hand, breathe into it, and take a big whiff. That’ll give you a chance to smell your breath and decide; this isn’t completely unreasonable. You really can trap enough of your breath in your hand (for a moment at least) that this would work. The problem is that your breath smells the same going up your nostrils as it does going up the back door.

This means that your brain will ignore your breath in your hand the same way it ignores the breath in your mouth. Some people will swear that they smell something this test, and they aren’t exactly wrong. You very well might smell something. The problem is that you won’t be smelling your breath. You’ll smell your hand. You might even smell a mixture of things from your mouth and your hand. Regardless, that odor is unquestionably different from what other people will smell if you get up close and personal.

The Lick Test

If you want to take things up a notch, you can lick yourself. Different people will recommend other spots (like the wrist). The trick here is to take a good lick and then let it dry for 10 seconds or so. After that, you should be able to smell your breath on your wrist. This method should work better than breathing in your hand, but it still has fundamental problems.

The reason people get tricked into believing this trick is because of food residue. Say you eat peanut butter and chocolate candy (we’re avoiding copyright issues). That candy will alter your breath, and if you do the lick test, you’ll smell the candy on your wrist. That’s because some of that candy is still stuck to your tongue (hence the delicious after-taste). The issue is that many elements of your breath (especially when it’s bad) won’t stick to your wrist with this test. It can identify extremely strong breath, but it misses all of the subtlety. If you have mild breath issues, you won’t know with this test.

The Mouth Swab

The Mouth Swab

Some others will recommend gently scraping your tongue or cheek with a q-tip or toothpick. You should get as far back in your mouth as you can. After swabbing, let it dry for a few seconds and then take a deep sniff. 

You’re smart enough to see the problem; this is just the lick test done a little more thoroughly. So, it’s a little more reliable than the lick test, but it’s ultimately the same thing. The sources or odor that easily vaporize won’t stick to your swab, and you’ll be clueless to their smell when you run the test. 

Also, the brain filter remains an issue with all of these tests. Mostly, you’ll only be able to smell elements of your breath that change when you perform these tests. The bulk of the smell will remain the same, and you will continue to treat it as white noise.

Other FAQs about smelly sprouts

Are broccoli sprouts supposed to smell bad?

We’re all probably familiar with the smell of mature broccoli plants. Mature broccoli has a slight, distinct, earthy odor. Broccoli belongs to the brassica family of vegetables that also includes cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts.

So what about broccoli sprouts? Should they smell bad? No, broccoli sprouts should not smell bad! They may smell like regular broccoli (which has a very subtle, slightly sulfuric smell normal of brassicas, especially before rinsing). But the smell shouldn’t be disgusting. Broccoli sprouts really shouldn’t have much of an odor at all.

If you smell anything pungent, or strongly sulfuric, it’s time to discard that batch of broccoli sprouts! Broccoli sprouts are more susceptible to moisture issues, so be sure you’re doing a good job of rinsing and draining.

Another tell-tale sign that broccoli sprouts have gone bad is the appearance. Normally, they should have a yellow green color on their leaves with white shoots; however bad broccoli sprouts may have fuzzy growth appearing at the tops.

Mung beans smell

Mung beans are a commonly grown sprout. However, when they start to smell, they smell awful! Some compare it to the smell of death.

If mung beans are fresh, and grown in proper conditions, they shouldn’t smell much like anything. Chances are, if your mung bean sprouts smell, they’ve probably gone bad.

Discard any mung bean sprouts with a rotten smell. They’ll likely look slimy.

Author: Josh Tesolin

Josh is co-founder of RusticWise. When he’s not tinkering in the garden, or fixing something around the house, you can find him working on a vast array of random side projects.

Read more about him here