Why mouth odour is a difficult subject

(Hint: it’s not just about mouth odour)

A mouth odour problem is like a snoring problem: the person with it is always the last to know and hardest to convince.

That’s why it’s hard to tell someone they have bad mouth odour (aka halitosis), and why most people simply don’t bother trying to: how do you convince someone of something that’s bad, that you can’t prove, and that they totally have to take your word for?

You can only do it if they’re willing to consider what you have to say. Providing, of course, they don’t slap you first.

But there’s another reason this is difficult to talk about. It’s this: the people most likely to notice, the ones who feel it (and suffer it) the most, are the ones who risk most by talking. The closeness that puts you in range of a person’s mouth odour is the exact same closeness you jeopardise by talking about it.

Talking about someone’s mouth odour requires risking not just their immediate push back (such as a slap) but also the long term risk of their ongoing resentment.

And so lots of people go around blissfully ignorant of their mouth odour.

Here’s the thing, though: everyone of us has our own “mouth odour” — the personal flaws and failings we can’t possibly know except we’re told by someone else. It might be your anger. Or your pride. Or your selfishness. Or your gullibility. Or your meanness.

And the people closest to you, the ones who feel it the most, are the ones who have the most to lose by telling you.

Are you making it easy for them? Your personal growth depends on it.

Your loss, though, if you’re not, if you have a reputation for slapping or hating on the messenger — you can be sure never to get the messages that matter most.

Not that you’d know.

Published by Doc Ayomide

I’m a medical doctor with specialty training in psychiatry, and I love thinking and writing about what it means to be human.

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