Sometimes people have morning breath or garlic-breath of some sort. If I'm talking to a friend in a public place and I notice this, what should I do? Should I tell them to brush their teeth in the morning? Give them a mint? What is the politest way to tell them that their breath smells?

  • 3
    Is this a one-time thing or is this repeated and problematic?
    – Catija
    Jul 3, 2017 at 17:44
  • This is not really an uncommon problem. But like the other comments, please narrow the scope a bit.
    – Vylix
    Jul 10, 2017 at 8:30
  • I am wondering if this offends people? I would be more offended by people not telling me honestly. If you're my friend, close colleague or family member I'm counting on you to let me know those kind of things.
    – Summer
    Jul 26, 2017 at 15:39
  • Where are you located? Could you add some location data?
    – user288
    Aug 31, 2017 at 0:39

4 Answers 4


When someone has bad breathe I take gum out of my pocket and take a piece for myself, and then offer them a piece. It appears as not rude since they can pretend that I was being polite since I took one for myself, but it solves the problem (at least temporarily).

If you continue to do this with the same person they will probably figure it out, so that is something to be mindful of and decide whether you want them to know that is what you are doing or not.

  • 6
    "They will probably figures it out", not really, people are usually bad to get hints, and I would probably not.
    – Walfrat
    Jul 26, 2017 at 11:26
  • I once read the advice "If someone offers you a gum, take it. At best they are being polite, at worst it means your breath smells."
    – anon
    Sep 14, 2017 at 13:37
  • 3
    ...Then however I have a coworker with smelly breath and when I offered them a gum once they turned out to be incredible loud chewers, which was way worse than the bad breath...
    – anon
    Sep 14, 2017 at 13:37

To close friends

Move closer, and hint that their breath smells without drawing others' attention to it.

To not-so-close friends

Probably stand a little further away, and hope they sense why I did that.

To coworkers

Depends on how friendly we are. Refer the abovementioned.

To siblings

No limit on what I'd say; but not in public though. No formalities.

To strangers

Don't mention it. I'd do what I came to do, and move away.


If it's a good friend you can say, goodness me, have you been eating garlic? here, have a mint. Have one yourself, to take the edge off it.

Otherwise, grab a mint and offer them one. You can say, oh dear, too much garlic in my food, would you like one too?


I consider it a sign of my own hard-won maturity that I do not expect everyone to be like me and live by my standards. Bad breath won't kill me (not to mention worse things). I should be really sure that the issue is important before I open my mouth and make it my problem, and possibly make my friend's problem bigger (they might already know and feel bad enough or be depressed)?

Of course, if this is a friend, you might say, "Hey, your breath is pretty strong. Does that matter?", and let them decide. They might be grateful that you had the concern to let them know without parenting them.

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