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 (30)
Pages | 1

My breath be stankin

My breath be stankin

by Daquarius Lashondabonishe on Sep 4, 2017 | 2:06 AM

I can't think of a title...

Why am I writing this?

by Why am I here? on Aug 26, 2017 | 9:47 PM

Mouth is so close to nose yet betray our own nose. How can we expect others to be honest with us. DTA!

by H.E.R on Aug 23, 2017 | 11:34 PM

A few breath remedies the natural way: cloves, rosemary, peppermint, cinnamon, spearmint, coconut oil are just a few things you can use

by D on May 27, 2017 | 10:53 PM

bad breath when kissing

Ma bf says he noticed I ve a bad breath when we kiss but not when am talking.. can I ve a bad breath only when kissing but not when am talking?

by gracy on Apr 29, 2017 | 11:45 AM

Yall tripping Bubba ya teeth stink so what why brush let them fall out and get new ones

by Billy bobby on Apr 13, 2017 | 12:45 AM

Bad breath

I have this problem since last year can't find the cure , please can somebody help me how to get rid of bad breath ? I wash my mouth and I scrape and floss it too and rinse with the mouth wash , still bad breath is there 😢

by Tara on Mar 1, 2017 | 11:21 PM

I stopped eating onion and garlic. It works and there is no difference in the taste of my food.

by Jinesh on Feb 5, 2017 | 12:16 PM

I am facing seriour issue while breathing it feels like onion or garlic smell ,kindly recommend me

by soharab uddin on Jan 31, 2017 | 10:10 AM

double thumbs up article!!!

by visanti on Jan 13, 2017 | 1:24 PM

Don't put water in a cup and then use it to rinse your mouth of toothpaste. Spit out toothpaste after brushing, get your toothbrush wet, then use it to get the toothpaste off of your teeth and tongue. Trust me, this works. I no longer have bad breath

by Lovie on Jan 12, 2017 | 3:50 PM


Guys smoking cigarette is one of the factors

by Anteneh dagnachew on Dec 18, 2016 | 9:30 PM

When I tried the wrist test and cheek pulling test my breath was fine. When I tried the finger test my breath is horrible. Which do I go with?

by Ann on Dec 8, 2016 | 5:50 PM

Lol why do people always pinch their nose when I'm talking to them? It's making me anxious and embarrassed! I always brush my teeth and floss once every day. Tss

by WHY! on Nov 26, 2016 | 7:55 AM

bad breath problem is honestly so depressing :(

by bad breath on Nov 20, 2016 | 3:26 AM


Well I have bad breath and I always do no matter is I brush my teeth 15 minutes later my breath starts to stink I think it might be my braces thanks but no thanks people smell it but I don't..

by Thanks on Sep 29, 2016 | 5:08 AM

Wow, Its not just me!

SUGGESTION: I think I am going to try all the ideas listed. Tks everyone! But I will also try... Drinking more water, using arm and hammer toothpaste, flossing more, stop doing so much mouth breathing, eating less meat more veggie, using peroxide mouthwash, and trying chlorophyll herbal supplement. PS: be cautious of hidden problems. For example... I season almost all my food with a Cajun seasoning blend. But i read the label and it contains onion and garlic powder .

by NoGirlyGirl on Sep 3, 2016 | 2:30 PM


Breath doesn't smell bad to me or no bad taste in mouth but when talking to others they push there nose eventually

by embarrassed on Sep 1, 2016 | 11:02 AM

I use a product called therabreath they have it in walgreens less expensive in walmart and carry it in a small bottle of scope. It kills bacteria which is what also causes bad breath unlike mouthwaskes that only kill germs. It helped a lot a diet like eating less meat and before bed also has helped but acid reflux and other stomach problems I think is also affect it.Hope this helps I had the problem for years and worry even today. Good luck

by Pete on Aug 30, 2016 | 8:21 AM

It works

I used the tounge swabbing and used my finger and it was gross. No one ever told me thank yoh

by Alexis on Aug 1, 2016 | 2:31 PM

I find when I am in the bus my mouth is closed but people around me always coughing and rubbing there noses. I went to several doctors spent lots of cash and no help, indeed its a depressing thing I believing God for a breakthrough...i do have several fillings, I even started extracting those filled tooth, since I read really large fillings over 10 tens could cause bad breath people at work sometimes hold their noses, my husband says it smells fine people away from him reaction says otherwise, I can't focus anymore I am so depressed right now but I am not suicidal I believe God has a purpose for my life ...please pray for me...

by pretty on Mar 3, 2016 | 5:47 PM

My Bad breath comes from stomach

I have excellent Dental/ mouth care, no problems there but still have musty breath smell coming from mouth and nose( same odor) even if I don talk people still can smell it, It is really depressing because I don't have any other health problem but BAD BREATH ODOR, I can't figure out what it is or was I born this way???😹

by R on Feb 11, 2016 | 4:57 PM

No boo

I hate it

by Nayeli terrazas on Jan 24, 2016 | 10:46 AM

Great article, bad breath is something very common but most people prefer not to talk about openly.
checking own breath should help ease the problem as one then knows when to brush and do more oral cleaning.

by Roamy on Dec 31, 2015 | 11:49 AM


I went to the store, then pay from my stuff, cashier asking my zip code, the I told her, then she cough twice. I do wear a perfume, but don't know why? If she smell my breath or perfume. Cause my saliva doesn't taste anything. Lick my risk, cotton bud, doesn't have smell. I don't know why she cough?

by Maria on Dec 11, 2015 | 2:20 PM


Thank you website. I finally found methods that work

by Nate on Oct 1, 2015 | 8:24 PM

My wrist don't STINK!

by STINK on Jul 29, 2015 | 8:41 AM

Is this really a site dedicated to breath! Awesome I always wonder and needed this Information. Thx!!

by Bobert on Jun 15, 2015 | 6:52 AM

It worked!my breath don't stink!

by Garrett on Jan 6, 2015 | 7:01 PM

Maybe you guys don't think it works because maybe your breath smells fine test it on your dog or something haha

by Chill on Dec 24, 2014 | 7:26 PM
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