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How to smell your own breath

a human nose

Why is it hard, Why do it, and how to do it

At one time or another a person may want to be able to smell their own breath and check to see if it is fresh or not. You may find that it is difficult to detect your own breath. In this article we will cover why you cannot smell your own breath very well, why you might want to check you breath, and methods on how to be able to smell it.

Why you can't smell your own breath

It is very difficult for people to smell their own breath because a person becomes acclimated to their own breath, or in other words they get used to it so they don't notice it anymore.

Have you ever been to a persons house that smells bad because they have a lot of cats or animals? If you tell the owner their house stinks they might be surprised or say they don't even notice it. The fact that we become acclimated to smells is evident.

Our brains are designed wisely and have us become acclimated to smells so we can notice new smells easier. If we never became acclimated to smells it would be hard to smell new things such as food or flowers because our sense of smell may be overwhelmed by the smell of our breath or surroundings.

It is often easy to smell other peoples bad breath, because we aren't acclimated to theirs. If someone you know who is close to you has bad breath all the time, read our article on How To Tell Someone They Have Bad Breath.

Why check your own breath?

The obvious reason you would want to check your breath at a certain time is to find out if at that moment your breath is fresh or not. You may want to do this before a meeting, social gathering, or date.

Another reason you may want to smell your own breath is to determine the effectiveness of various oral care products. There are various types of mints, gums, mouthwashes, and toothpastes on the market now that promise fresh breath and it is apparent that some work better than others. You may want to test which products are the best for you by checking your breath after using them.

When testing products it is important not to check your breath immediately after using them because your breath will just smell like the product. Check your breath 1-3 hours after using the product, but make sure you haven't eaten or drank anything other than water since using it. Record your results for each product and be sure to be consistent with testing products to produce accurate results. Check your breath after using each product at the same time. For example if you brush your teeth with Crest toothpaste and check your breath after 1 hour, then make sure when you test a different product such as toothpaste from Colgate that you check your breath precisely after one hour as well.

Eating relatively the same food before using the product is important as well. For example if you are testing toothpastes and one day you eat garlic cloves for breakfast and then you brush your teeth and check your breath and then the next day for breakfast you have bacon and eggs and then you brush your teeth and check your breath, I am willing to bet the despite the effectiveness of either toothpaste your breath will be worse on the day you had those pungent garlic cloves for breakfast.

Methods on how to smell your breath

Here are various methods you may use to check your own breath. Some may work better for you than others so experiment and see what works.

Hand-Cupping Method

This is one of the most popular yet least effective methods. To do this method you breath into your cupped hand and sniff immediately after. It is not effective because we are acclimated to our own breath. In order to be able to better detect your own breath it is important to remove the source of the odor from your mouth and then smell it.

Wrist Method

  1. Make sure your wrist is clean and doesn't smell like perfume, cologne, or sweat. If it does wash it and let it dry.
  2. Lick your wrist with your tongue and wait 10 seconds.
  3. Smell where you have licked on your wrist. If it smells bad then your breath probably smells bad, if you smell nothing then your breath should smell fine.

Cheek Pulling Method

  1. Pinch your cheeks and pull them out away from your teeth.
  2. Push them back towards your teeth.
  3. Repeat this a few times faster and sniff at the same time.
  4. If you smell a bad odor, then your breath is probably bad.

Tongue Swab Method

  1. Take a spoon, q-tip, cotton-swab, toothpick, or finger and gently rub the far back of your tongue, the further back the better. Set the object aside and wait a minute. Then smell the object you rubbed your tongue with. Your breath probably smells like what the object smells like.

Swabbing Your cheeks

This is the same as the Tongue Swab Method but instead of swabbing your tongue you swab the insides of your cheeks.

Smelling Dental Floss or Toothpicks

This method is not as reliable as the others but does give you a good idea if there are particles or compounds in between your teeth that are causing odors and bad breath. What you do is use the floss or toothpick as you normally would and then smell it after using it.

Closing Note: One of the easiest and most accurate ways to know if you have bad breath is to ask someone else you know closely. If you discover that you do have bad breath, please read our article on What Causes Bad Breath and then our article on How To Get Rid of Bad Breath. With time and effort you will greatly reduce your bad breath and have greater confidence around others.

Below in the comments let us know what method worked best for you or if you have discovered a method that works better. Thanks!

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Comments on this page
mary [03/17/2014 16:04] 

Take out white sugar & flourits bad bateria, add oregano dried or fresh to your diet & add proboitics foods& tablet its good bacteria drink plenty of water, make a tea using , mints, lemons, dried oregano, No white sugar bacteria feeds off sugar which gives a bad breath.

some douchbah [03/03/2014 07:23] 

ha! my breath is so awesome!

ikdforsure [02/28/2014 17:47] 

Recently I start paying more attention to my breathe cause my mouth tastes bad wen I take my tongue and move it around I brush my teeth I use listerine I floss. Etc I try the wrist to me it give off a rank smell then my mom was combing thru me hair and she talked abt how it smells bad and it needs washing and how I have nuff dranruff so I am like is it my hair or my breath? I was my hair but I think it my breath and I don't know who to trust or ask abt my breath:(

Guest [02/02/2014 23:13] 

Everyday at school my breath smells bad no matter how much or how hard I brush. It makes me very anti social and afraid when someone comes near me

Guest [01/25/2014 06:48] 

I tried all the methods above and could not smell a thing, until I rubbed my finger in the back in my tongue....sniffed it and smelt like a babies nappy...god help my work mates!

Scott [01/20/2014 14:22] 

If your gums are bleeding when you brush, that means you are most likely brushing incorrectly, or you have a gum disease. Read the article at http://www.breathmd.com/how-to-brush-your-teeth.php to learn how to properly brush your teeth. Make sure you are use a toothbrush with fine sensitive bristles.

Guest [01/20/2014 13:53] 

My teeth always bleed when im brushing it,maybe it's one of the cause while im having a bad breath.

Guest [01/07/2014 21:59] 

The qtip method really helps!!!!

Guest [11/29/2013 00:38] 

I did the lock the wrist thing and my breath
Smelled like peppermints even though I can't
Eat peppermints..... Is that normal ? And is it
Good or bad??

Eastern cape [11/22/2013 15:47] 

Did with my finger and the smell was a sperm like smell.help me plzzz i think i have bad breath(0840802399)......just come forward and have mercy to help me out.

David [10/30/2013 12:47] 

I like licking my wrist and top lip, I am addicted to the stale odour it creates, I also scratch the top of my crack and sniff my fingers at night or early morning, totally different smell but equally as addictive

Guest [10/28/2013 16:55] 

Lick your top lip then out it to your nose

Abi Jagoe [10/22/2013 01:02] 

My breath always smells like feces, is this a sign of constipation or poor oral hygiene?

Rickey [10/02/2013 12:01] 

I've looked all over my trailer to try to find some floss but had to use an old tea bag string instead..
Sorry, forgot where I was going with that story. Going to skip using alcohol mouthwash and just try sherry instead. I'll let y'all know how it goes with fixing my headache.

pheasant [09/29/2013 04:32] 

My boyfriend said I had otter breath ,so I licked my wrist then smelt it ....it stank ,so I brushed my teeth then had a poo.

Guest [09/03/2013 22:47] 

I don't think I'm that bad, but I'm always worried about this type of thing. I use a tongue brush with toothpaste and it works wonders. I use it every night before bed. :) It feels amazing and fresh.

Guest [08/22/2013 22:02] 

One thing that worked well for me is "scaling." A periodontist has to remove pockets of infection from underneath the gums, flossing yourself cannot reach these places. The results did not last forever, but that may be partly my fault. You have to keep regular cleaning up too. For people with no gap between teeth this is probably your issue. Try it!

Guest [08/04/2013 13:26] 

I dnt smell nothin' bad in my breath with the wrist method bt I feel so worried abt bad breath,both mine and others'...its all I thnk abt if someone is close to me

Guest [07/30/2013 08:48] 

Lick wrist works best

SmellyBreath101 [07/26/2013 20:46]E-Mail  

I tried to find how to smell a burp. This didn't help me cuz I have good breath.

Twilight [07/26/2013 19:12] 

I can't smell anything although i still think it people are holding there noses at me :(

Guest [07/18/2013 21:27] 

My mouth smells like ass with every method I tried

Philip Avelar [06/09/2013 17:53] 

I spit when I talk, and I fart when I spit.

Laura [06/09/2013 17:51] 

My boyfriend says my breath smells, but I refuse to brush my teeth. My doctor has also told me I have the beginning signs of gingivitis.

Guest [06/09/2013 13:10]E-Mail  

I can't smell anything... none of the methods work for me... :( Or maybe my breath don't have much of an ordor to begin with?

Guest [06/06/2013 04:25] 

(: i ve good breath

Guest [05/15/2013 12:48] 

I hate my breath!

Guest [05/10/2013 11:28] 

I'm sure some of these methods work fine but how bout that infection smell or old alcohol next day smell. You know... the smell you can smell through someone else's nose even when their mouth is shut. These smells rarely go away with any breath freshening product. Not sure if theses smells are detectible from the tongue or cheek.

Guest [05/08/2013 10:06] 

If according to all the methods my breath doesn't smell. But whenever i put my finger down my throat it comes covered in saliva and my nail part (especially) really really stinks. So do i have bad breath or no ? Very confused !!!!

Guest [04/09/2013 20:32] 

wrist method is okay but there might be some smell on your wrist and you might not get that strong of a smell and tell if its bad or not.your tongue is where most of your germs that cause bad breath are so the tongue swabbing with a q-tip method definitely works the best. but the wrist method is the best if you don't have access to a q-tip or spoon like if your on the go or on a date u don't really want it to be obvious but i would just go to the bathroom to check

Guest [03/31/2013 19:06] 

Wrist method for sure, i feel as if the tongue swab with a q-tip changes the smell for me . Bit that's just me. I drink a lot of coffee and sometimes feel like it leaves an unpleasant odor , thank you for the methods !

phil [03/25/2013 10:20] 

dental floss doesn't really tell you what your breath smells like... it will tell you what the food between your teeth smells like. wrist method is easy and will tell you what the other person will smell.

Guest [02/16/2013 06:40]E-Mail  

I have been using the alcohol free mouthwash,yet it won't go,I sense the response from my friends so bad that it makes me think all the time,been using a pill to control bad breath,now I'm seek and tired cos I don't know what to do.please helpppppppp!!

Meeeee!!!! [01/18/2013 17:49] 

The best way to check your breath is to breathe all over your friends and if they cringe your breath stinks!

Guest [01/14/2013 16:57] 

I found a way by kind of pushing air out of my mouth with my tongue and sniffing. If you test this, make sure you open your mouth a bit.

Guest [12/15/2012 19:15] 

I like the wrist method its pretty cool! And not saying that my breath smelt bad but it just gave a little odor! Thank God!

Guest [12/11/2012 11:11] 

i tried the tongue swab method and my breath smells like sperm.. oh my!!

Guest [11/28/2012 12:05] 

I just brushed my teeth and I tried the pen and wrist method but my breath didn't even smell like tooth paste.

NOT TO GUESS.... [11/27/2012 09:33]E-Mail  

I LIKE THE WRIST METHOD I THINK ITS A GOOD ONE AND ALSO ONE THAT ACTUALLY WORKS IF YOU FOLLOW IT PROPERLY, THAT IS.

faransano [11/27/2012 07:36] 

the best way to know how your breath smells to lick a writing pen wait for it to dry sniff it after like 5seconds whatever is the smells is how your breath smells.

Guest [11/20/2012 14:39] 

The best way to check your breath is to breathe into a cup full of ice then smell. The wrist test is one of the worst unless u do it right after u shower. The cup of ice isn't always practical but if your out at a bar ask for a water, drink and looky there u have a cup of ice.

Guest [10/28/2012 11:01] 

A reply to Guest [06/18/2012 18:22] Check this site. There's a lot to learn in there. http://www.earthclinic.com/CURES/body_odor.html

Guest [10/18/2012 22:49] 

what could i do to make my breath smell better an not terrible.

Anonymously [10/01/2012 09:27] 

I tried all- wrist and cheek swab worked best.

Guest [09/25/2012 16:49] 

guys please suggest me the best way to clean the tongue

Guest [09/23/2012 18:57] 

Most of them work but try to clean the far back-end of your tongue and the tonsils regularly with a cotton-swab. Dental floss in between the tooth tells the truth...

Guest [09/18/2012 08:03] 

Finger was the best for me can do it anywhere too

Guest [09/15/2012 09:18] 

AAHH!! My breath smells not bad but almost metallic. Is that weird?!?

Guest [06/25/2012 14:07] 

good job

Guest [06/21/2012 15:07] 

I would like to recommend to the first guest that you go see your doctor in case there is something off in your body causing the odor. It could be as simple as eating too much garlic and onion or it could be something you need to take care of to remain healthy.

Guest [06/18/2012 18:22]E-Mail  

I have tried all the different tests and no bad smells, but I know my body is emitting a bad odour. I have just had a shower and felt completely clean, and someone passed by who said go get a shower. I have been fighting this smell for years and nothing seems to work. People sniffs and leave the room when I am present. I just do not know what else to try.

Guest [06/10/2012 17:33] 

I always sniff my dental floss. Gross - but just one of those things.

marly [03/31/2012 16:47]E-Mail  

Wow that is so easy its really good!

Guest [03/06/2012 15:52] 

I've recently used something called a Tungbrush. My husband notices a BIG difference. He's the best person to ask! I had no idea that I've been grossing him out all of these years!

ivey [12/02/2011 16:28]E-Mail  

I wanted to know this because i want to make sure my friend knows this.

Bob [07/18/2011 15:15] 

I found the tongue swab method with a q-tip to be the most effective.

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