Advice

5 Things Anyone Who Makes Out With People Should Know About Bad Breath

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Eff #thatawkwardmoment when you pucker up and hover in only to get flat-out REJECTED.

Unidentified sources estimate that 90% of the time this happens you’ve probably made a grievous error in judgment and tried to plant a smooch on a party who is simply not picking up what you’re throwing down. But on occasion, you could be scaring off someone who would otherwise be willing to suck your face for an entirely different reason: your breath stinks.

Fear not; I’ve found the solution. Below, you’ll find answers to five of the most frequently asked questions about bad breath. Heed the advice that follows to ensure that your next failed kiss has everything to do with you and nothing to do with your halitosis.

Plus: Kissing More Important Than Sex, Says Science

How Can I Tell if I’m Suffering from Bad Breath?!

Self-examinations don’t always yield honest results. You may think that huffing into your hand and sniffing what’s expelled will give you a clear indication of how your breath rates. Think again. You might be too accustomed to your own brand to realize its potency. Better tests include:

  • Watch for verbal cues from people you speak with. Do they avoid facial proximity or put a hand near their nose?
  • Check the very back of your tongue for a film of white residue. That stuff is basically congealed bacteria. And it stinks.
  • Floss. Raise floss to nostril. Take a whiff.
  • Chew on a pen for a few minutes. Raise pen to nostril. Take a whiff.
  • Breathe into a glass (rather than the palm of your hand) and then sample the bouquet.

Gum or mints? What kind?

The truth is that neither gum nor mints will provide more than a temporary fix for your malodorous oral emissions. That said, they certainly don’t hurt, either. Gum promotes saliva production, which is one of the body’s greatest built-in defenses against bad breath, so it beats a breath mint in that regard.

Opt for brands sweetened with xylitol (a sugar substitute), as sucrose is bad for your mouth and promotes bacterial growth. As for flavor, research indicates that cinnamon is most effective in reducing oral bacteria counts.

So what are effective strategies for diluting my stinkbreath on a more-than-temporary basis?

The top three answers are on the board. Survey says:

  • Drink tons of water throughout the day. A moist mouth is a fresh one, as saliva is packed with enzymes that combat the bacteria that accumulates between your teeth and (especially) in the pores of your tongue.
  • Brush and floss like a champion. I’m talking multiple times a day, and certainly prior to any hot dates. Don’t forget to scour every surface of your tongue, which is pretty much bad breath HQ.
  • Snack on healthy foods packed with carbs. Bananas and apples are two great options. South Beach and Atkins dieters should pay special attention to this one, as carb-deprivation leads to your body producing excess amounts of ketone, a pungent compound that is released in the mouth.

Eek! I’m on a date. What should I order to diminish the chances that my breath turns sour?

Let’s start with drinks. Beer, whiskey, wine (foremost reds) and drinks mixed with flavored sodas or juices are the culprits to avoid. Gin and vodka — especially when mixed with tonic or a simple soda — are the least detectable/offensive. The most breath-conscious should consider a mint-infused mojito. Furthermore, for as awesomely cheap and low-key as the coffee date is, it is also the least likely to end in a kiss.

As for food, do I even need to say it? Stay away from garlic and onions. Dairy products are also known to augment bad breath. On the flip-side, fruits and vegetables tend to be breath-neutral, and a number of spices (parsley, anything that ends with -mint, fennel, tarragon, coriander, rosemary and cinnamon among them) can actually improve the scent that issues from your talk/suck-hole.

I really need a cigarette. This dating stuff is stressful! Can I smoke it?

Not if you want to make out with her/him in the immediate future. Look: if you’re a smoker, chances are you primarily date other smokers, and obviously the cat will escape the proverbial bag eventually. But on a first date, leave the pack at home. If you need an oral fixation, grab a pack of gum or some Altoids. You’ll thank me later, as you stroll home from a successful date with the taste of his/her tongue and lips still lingering on your palate.

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