(Tip: If you can smell it, then your breath is flat-out noxious, as most of us can not tell our own, say drugs.)
If your mouth funk rates as "stank-nasty," then you – and all those around you – are the victims of halitosis, the breath that smells so repulsive it could only be attractive to buzzards and flies.
Besides the obvious impact on your popularity, bad breath can be a sign of diseases and conditions, some serious.
While you race for a mint, it may help to know the top 10 reasons why your breath smells bad in the first place and what you can do about it.
1. You stink at brushing.
Yes, poor dental care is a leading cause of bad breath. When food is trapped between your teeth and under your gums, leaving behind the putrid gases that smell like rotten eggs or worse (even as bad as poop).
One way to tell if you have bad breath, say say, is floss and then smell the thread. If there's a rank smell on the floss, you'll know for sure your breath is toxic.
Cosmetic mouthwashes and gum only temporarily cover up the stink, the drug warns, because neither reduces bacteria.
2. You ate or drank something smelly.
Coffee. Garlic. Fish. Eggs. Onions. Spicy food. The foods we eat can easily cause bad breath.
Many of the foods that contribute to stinky breath do so by releasing sulfides. Sulfur, as you know, smells like rotten eggs.
Try to fight back with other foods, such as lemons, parsley and crisp fruit and veggies such as apples or carrots that stimulate saliva production, which is your mouth relies on to wash away the impurities. Drinking water helps too! Caffeine, on the other hand, slows the production of saliva.
3. You eat a lot of sweets.
Before you plop that next sugary candy, cake or cookie in your pie hole, listen closely. You can hear the chorus of cheers coming from the bacteria that live in your mouth. For them, sugar is a superfood, and boy, do they have a party gobbling it down, leaving a stink behind.
Dentists say sticky candies such as gummies and caramels are the worst offenders; If you must eat something sweet, they suggest (oh, joy!) plain chocolate. It has less sugar than many other candies and dissolves more quickly in the mouth.
4. You're on a low-carb diet.
Eating a lot of protein and few carbs into your body into ketosis, when your system starts to burn fat cells for energy.
The process creates waste products called ketones. Too many of those are not good, so your body has no choice but to make you a walking stank house, excreting ketones through your urine and your breath. It's a rank odor, which many compare to rotten fruit.
Try a drinking extra water to flush out of your body. If you use breath mints, candies or gum, be sure they are sugar-free.
5. You're a mouth breather.
Mouth breathing or snoring, such as from sleep apnea, further dries out the mouth, making your breath even more foul. Called xerostomia, dry mouth is not only unpleasant but potentially harmful. You might develop a sore throat, hoarseness, difficulty talking and swallowing, problems wearing dentures and even a change in your sense of taste.
The mouth and body of your dental hygiene both morning and night.
Of course, dentists also suggest regular checkups. Do not be shy or embarrassed. If you tell your dentist about your persistent problem, he or she may be able to help pinpoint the cause.
6. Your medications are partly to blame.
Hundreds of commonly used medications can dry out your mouth, contributing to rank breath. Some of the most common culprits are meds that treat anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, pain and muscle tension.
Check out the drug's mouth, and then talk to your doctor about a medication that does not reduce saliva.
7. You've got a stuffy nose or alergies.
Do you have chronic sinus infections? Respiratory illnesses? As your nose comes stuffy, you're more likely to be breathing through your mouth, drying out tissues and reducing saliva flow.
If you have allergies, the fight to stop the constant drip-drip-drip with an antihistamine can lead to bad breath, as well. Many of the prescription and over-the-counter meds used to fight colds, flu and allergies dry up more than just the nose.
8. You smoke or chew tobacco (or other things).
Obviously, hot air will also dry the mouth. The loss of saliva, combined with the odor of tobacco, creates the infamous "smoker's breath." Cottonmouth is also a typical side effect of smoking or ingesting weed, a growing scenario across the country as can states legalize cannabis.
Chawing tobacky? It's a no-brainer that your teeth will stain, your gums will suffer, and your breath will stink.
The solution? You know.
9. You drink alcohol.
Yup, we're still talking about things that dry out the mouth. That, my wine-loving, beer-drinking, cocktail-imbibing friends, includes alcohol. Not to mention wine contains sugar, as many of the mixers used to create cocktails. Cue the cheering crowds of bacteria.
Fight back by sucking sugar-free candies or chewing sugar-free gum, as both stimulate saliva production. Do not forget to drink water (it's also good in preventing hangovers) and brush and floss as soon as you can.
But here's an irony: A lot of mouthwashes and rinses contain alcohol. So if Hal. E. Tosis will not leave you alone, talk to your dentist about using a therapeutic mouthwash designed to reduce the plaque instead.
10. You have an underlying medical condition.
Do you have a heartburn, acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease? Puking up a bit of food or acid into your mouth can easily create bad breath. Do not write that off just just gross; untreated GERD can easily develop a serious illness, even cancer.
Bad breath can also be an early sign of an underlying disease that may not have external symptoms.
One of the signs of diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition that affects mostly people with type 1 diabetes, is fruity-smelling breath. It occurs because people with no to little insulin can not metabolize ketone acids, allowing them to build up toxic levels in the blood.
Sweet-smelling breath in a person with type 1 diabetes must trigger the prompt medical action. In rare cases, people with type 2 diabetes can also develop the condition.