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bad-breathStatistics show that two-thirds of people polled have less respect for a boss with bad oral hygiene. We may have all experienced interacting with a boss, co-worker, loved one or friend who has halitosis at one time or another. It’s an awkward situation. How do you let someone know they have bad breath?

There’s a reason this question comes up all the time. It’s hard to address effectively without doing permanent damage—to their ego, your relationship with that person, or both. And let’s be honest: If the funky breather is your boss, there’s not much you can do about it without putting your career at risk.

Dr. Phillips has a few suggestions to address this delicate situation.

First casually offer your boss some gum, mints, or breath strips and you take one too. If he/she says, “No, thanks,” don’t give up. Make the suggestion the next day and again in a week or so. (But don’t pursue him or her to the point that it appears you’re getting kickbacks from Orbit.) Hopefully your persistence will prod him/her not just to take the gum, but also to rethink their dental habits in general.

If the bad breath persists, you have to make a tough decision. The easier route is to limit your nonessential interactions with your boss. The harder route—which is an option only if (a) you feel reasonably close to this person or (b) your verbal interactions are a short distance apart and you can’t take it anymore—is to dive in headfirst and say something. Yes, I know, this is the third rail of impossibly awkward conversations, but sometimes the direct approach is the best one. Try saying, “I feel very uncomfortable bringing this up, but I know I would want to be told. So here goes: Your breath doesn’t always smell so great.” Are you cringing reading this? Me too. But if you can remove all guilt and embarrassment from your voice, he or she might be able to hear the message without going into a shame spiral. And if it’s any consolation, think of the service you’ll be doing this person (and the rest of the office) in the long run.

If, on the other hand, you are the boss who is struggling with halitosis, here are some tips from Dr. Phillips to beat the bad breath:

  1. Brush your teeth and tongue, and floss after every meal and before bed.
  2. Drink plenty of water.
  3. Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks.
  4. Visit your dentist regularly for professional deep cleaning and if the odor persists talk to your dentist about other causes (infection, medications, tobacco, diseases like acid reflux, etc.).

If you are in the Fort Worth metro area and suffer from halitosis, please call Brit Phillips DDS and get on your way to better smelling breath!