Is there a socially acceptable way to tell someone they have bad breath?

I’ve struggled with this one for a long time - how do you tell someone, in a way which is supposed to be helpful and constructive, that their breath stinks? Do you buy them some floss and a tongue scraper and leave a note? Do you say to them “Look, you know I’m your friend and just want the best for you don’t you?” and then hit them with it? Do you leave an anonymous note setting out the problem and asking them to get help? What do you do?

Considering the number of people I run across who seem to have completely avoidable bad breath I think this knowledge would be useful.

Seems as how I recall an ad that said: “Your best won’t tell you.” and then suggested a breath/mouth freshner.

I wouldn’t do it unless they were my friend or if I had to deal with them constantly. Then, I offer them gum or a mint. When they say “No thanks”, I say, gently, and with a smile, “I think you should.” Then they take it, and I drop it and move on.

I’ve never had it go beyond this, usually the person then realizes it and corrects themself.

Didn’t Scope run a commercial once where people got a bottle of Scope in the mail, from an anonymous sender?

George Carlin did a routine on that:
CARLIN: . . . Seems such a cruel thing. I often think of the borderline psychotic. [laughter] Just needs one more thing to go wrong! Opens his mailbox . . . “What’s this? Scope. Scope! SCOOOOOPE!” Up on the roof with a rifle [pow! pow!] . . . Twelve dead and they blame Marine training!

Sure beats FDS.:wink:

Well, one way is to ask them, “Hey, is there a socially acceptable way to tell someone they have bad breath?”

“Your best friend.” There was even a song in the late 1920s, “If Your Best Friend Won’t Tell You, Why Should I?”

Ask them what they use for breath mints, saying that you’re not happy with your current brand. Look mildly surprised when they say “nothing.”

If it were me, I’d want you to just say something like, “Hey, this is a little awkward but I figure that you’d want to know. Your breath isn’t great. Want a mint?”

This is perfect. I’d go with this suggestion. Gentle and polite, but gets the point across.

Walking in to a party once, i greeted an acquaintance of mine (he was the first person i saw as i walked in). After a few seconds, he got a faraway look in his eye and said, “this is a little hard for me to say, but since you’re just arriving, you’ll probably want to know that you’ve got bad breath right now.”

He’s been a much better friend ever since that day. I respected him a lot for having the balls to say something like that to someone he only knew passingly, especially because i was just entering a social situation with lots of folks who might have been bothered. I immediately left to get a pack of gum.

One bit of advice that i would offer is to simply let the offending party know that they have bad breath at that moment. Don’t tell them that it’s been bad for years – even if it has – because then they might be really embarrassed.

Moved to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

If the person is a close friend and you are both male:

“Dude, what the hell crawled into your mouth and died?”