Someone I run into occasionally, when we meet, they always takes a pack of gum out of their pocket, takes a piece for themselves, and offers me one.

I am not sure if they think I have bad breath and want to cover the odor before talking to me. Or if they just have need to have gum in their mouth when talking to me and offer me a piece out of kindness.

Either way it is kind of awkward, should I try and find out why? If so how do I approach the conversation?

3 Answers 3


It's quite possible they really enjoy gum and feel obliged to offer you some. They may also have a breath issue (or think they do) and pull it out whenever they talk to someone.

If you're concerned you may have bad breath, ask a significant other, one of your children or a close friend, but someone you know will be honest with you. Personally, I always ask my children for feedback (they are older teens/adult). I need to choose which one I ask, as I know one of my sons will never tell me if I've put on weight (he doesn't want to hurt my feelings), so I ask my daughter. She will be honest.

This will solve the issue of the motive of this acquaintance offering you gum.

If it bothers you that they continually offer you gum you can say nicely "Please, there's really no need to offer me gum, I never chew it, but thanks" with a simple hand gesture towards the gum - palm facing the gum, to show a physical refusal and a smile to show gratitude.


It may well be useful to find out why. [From personal experience] There are things that can be done to mitigate bad breath, if it's confirmed.

I say this because, if it is true that you have bad breath, you can richly benefit by this information -- assuming you did not know this already. By the phrasing of your question, it looks like you are not sure.

May I suggest a first step to be whether you notice him doing this with others also. This may take some effort, but it may be worth it. If he does, then there may be nothing to bother over, as all you need to do is accept the gum only if you feel like having some. If he does not, then I suggest going to the next step.

How does he act if you politely say you are not in the mood for gum right now? If he makes his comments short and leaves, there may be cause for concern.

Going back to my first comment at the top, why not remove remaining doubts and visit a dentist. They usually have expertise and machinery that can lead to objective information given to you from a professional who has no reason to lie or spread discussions behind your back. If confirmed, he will be able to give professional advice on a plan of action that has the potential to significantly improve your quality of life. I state this as a last resort because it's usually a pricey option.


I suggest you to deal with this situation in a positive manner. By positive I mean, that if someone is offering you something constantly when you meet them, then 2 things can happen:

  • Either they are very courteous and hold you in high regard
  • For the same reason above, they don't want to offend you and so they give you a gum when you meet them.

So, what I suggest, is being a sport. Take the gum, chew it, and then jokingly ask "Hey, I don't have a bad breath, do I?". Conclude with a laugh and then proceed with "Anyway, if I do have a bad breath, your gum will make up for it!" A very beautiful quote from Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, is what I think will best suit your situation:

"It is not the problem that is the problem. It is my attitude towards the problem that is the problem"

Deal with any such situation by being a sport and having a positive attitude. This will help you in getting deeper to the root of the problem.

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