How to Test How Your Breath Smells

September 9, 2021
Bad breath (halitosis) is not just an inconvenience; it can also mean you are suffering from a dental or oral problem. Unfortunately, you are a poor judge of your own mouth odor. Over time, you get used to your breath and might not even notice the smell. You need other techniques to detect how your breath smells, and the following tips can help.

Ask Someone You Trust

One of the easiest ways to know if your breath smells is to ask someone you trust. A friend or a loved one can smell your breath and give you appropriate feedback. Don’t assume that you don’t have halitosis just because no one has told you about it. Some people might feel awkward about volunteering the information, but they will gladly tell you if you ask.

Analyze Your Symptoms and Circumstances

Analyzing your symptoms might not give you a definitive answer about halitosis. However, the analysis will help you know your likelihood of having the condition once. For instance, you should suspect bad breath if:

  • You have chronic dry mouth
  • You have a chronic dental disease, such as gum disease
  • Your tongue has a white coating

Seek out a definitive diagnosis if you exhibit such signs.

Do a Self-test

Self-diagnosis is another easy way to diagnose halitosis. Below are some tests you can do on your own.

Wrist Test
Lick your wrist, wait a few seconds, and smell the area you licked. The result is your tongue’s odor, which may indicate your overall mouth’s odor.

Tongue Scraper and Baggie Test
Use a tongue scraper to scrape the very back of your tongue. Place the residue you have scraped in an airtight bag (such as a small plastic bag) and leave it for a few minutes. The residue’s odor will tell you how the back of your mouth smells.

Gauze Test
Use a small piece of medical gauze to wipe your tongue. Smell the gauze to know how your tongue smells.

Airbag Test
Exhale into an airtight bag several times. The smell indicates your breath’s odor and can let you know if your bad breath needs to be medically addressed.

Floss Test
Use unflavored floss to floss your gums, and ensure the floss gets under the gum line. Smell the floss to know how the space between your teeth smells.

Use an OTC Test Kit
You can also use an over-the-counter test kit from a drugstore. A halimeter test, which measures the level of volatile sulfur compounds in your mouth, is a good example. Ask your dentist for a recommendation of the most reliable test kit.

Consult the Dentist

You can also go to the dentist for a halitosis test. Below are some diagnostic methods the dentist may use.

Instrumental Methods
The dentist may use a variety of instruments to measure the type and number of compounds in your breath. Typical methods include gas chromatography and halimeter usage. The dentist may even combine the two methods.

Organoleptic Methods
The dentist directly smells your breathe and rates the odor on a scale. The dentist may use a drinking straw or glass tube to get the odor directly from inside your mouth to determine if any dental issues may be causing the odor.

For this test, the dentist swabs your tongue with cotton and analyses its contents. Specifically, the analysis detects enzymes from oral bacteria that trigger halitosis. Dentists also use the BANA test to predict the risk of periodontitis, allowing preemptive treatment.

You should know how their breath smells. Stephen J. Vanyo, DMD, can tell you how your breath smells and catch any potential dental concerns at every consultation. Contact us today for all your dental needs.