You’ve seen the ads where the really gorgeous, blond high school cheerleader or football star is a social failure because of . . . shhh . . bad breath! Best friends find it nigh unto impossible to say, “Jenny you’ve got to do something about it … about that smell of the dragon’s cave you give off when you laugh.” Well, you have the choice. No laughter or let the world know that a dragon lives in your mouth.

Let’s pretend you’re totally ignorant as to whether your breath is grass fresh or unpleasant. Here’s a simple do-it-yourself test. Breath into a small children’s party-size balloon until it is well filled. Slowly with the nozzle pinched firmly and only a tiny escape hatch available allow the breath to flow out of the balloon as you sniff. Whatever you are smelling, that’s you-the you that others often get more than a whiff of.

Now here’s something you should know, too. Many times bad odor come from your stomach, your nose, your sinuses, or your lungs. The mouth is merely one source of halitosis or bad breath. There’s another simple test to tell you whether your mouth is the offender: Press a nostril closed with a finger, close your mouth, take a deep breath, and exhale into the neck of another balloon. Sort of awkward to hold but you can do it. Expel the air and sniff it. If the nose air smells the same as the air from your mouth, you can be sure the scent derives from someplace other than your mouth. Those who consistently have bad breath from other sources than the mouth should consult their doctors. Heredity is said to play a factor in halitosis. You alone know how your parent’s breaths smelled. Of course, poor dental hygiene, caries, and diseased gums are obvious breath spoilers. Breath sweeteners, scented toothpastes, and mouth washes are temporary relievers of the problem but the cause can often only be cured by your dentist.

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