All is not flossed
I’ve gone out several times with a girl I really like, but her breath bothers me enough that I don’t want to kiss her until it improves. (It smells like pepper and socks.) She doesn’t smoke, eat stinky foods, or have an odd diet (beyond not eating red meat), so I’m not sure where this is coming from. I think her feelings might be hurt if I were to say something. What’s the best approach? –Holding My Breath
When you read a book about the horrible chemical weapons used in World War I, you shouldn’t think, “Hey, that reminds me of kissing my girlfriend.”
People will tell you that you can just give the girl a hinty-poo in the form of gum or a mint. And sure, Altoids can eliminate persistently bad breath – if the person who has it gets killed in an avalanche of them. But terrible breath that isn’t caused by something a person ate or eats regularly could point to dental problems – issues even “curiously strong mints” can’t fix, not even when combined with a really strong mouthwash, like Lysol Basin, Tub & Tile Cleaner.
There’s a common misconception – held even by many doctors and dentists – that serious bad breath originates in the stomach, notes the health care research-vetting group the Cochrane Collaboration. In fact, only 9 percent of the cases at an “oral malodor” clinic were caused by things such as gastric imbalances, diet and sinus infections. But 86 percent of the cases originated orally – most caused by gross microscopic critters relaxing and playing poker on a person’s tongue.
Studies find that these microbe meetups can be shut down with tongue scraping, at least for a while, but you can’t just present this girl with a Tiffany’s box with a silver tongue scraper. (“Thinking of you …”) Sure, you may lose her if you say something, but if you don’t, you’ll almost definitely have to ditch her or have your sinuses filled with cement.
To break the news, start positive: “I find you totally hot and an amazing person, but I have to tell you: There’s a sort of ongoing issue with your breath, and I’ve read that this can point to dental issues or a need for tongue scraping.” Assuming she isn’t so mortified that she dumps you, this news is likely to send her to the dentist and/or to the drugstore for a tongue scraper. This, in turn, should get you longing to kiss her – a far more enjoyable act once you’re no longer dating a woman who maybe looks like Xena the warrior princess but tastes like Xena’s horse after it’s licked the break room refrigerator.