Unless you were raised on a remote Pacific island or deep in the Amazonian jungle, chances are that someone has offered you a breath mint at some point. You probably accepted. After all, it's free, it's tasty and it may even be a little flattering that they're sharing with you. But is accepting the right thing to do, for both fresh breath and social tact?
Well, it depends. First, consider the reasons that you would offer someone else a mint. Generally, there are only two: Either (a) they're a pal and happen to be nearby when you dive into your mint supply, or (b) their breath reeks and there's just no good way to say it.
So if someone extends you a breath mint, does that mean you don't have fresh breath?
It's hard to say. Often, little things will give it away. For instance, if they do it offhand and have a big smile and no trace of discomfort, they're probably just being generous (especially if you're close friends, since they'd be more likely to just tell you if you have halitosis).
On the other hand, if the person offering mints is just an acquaintance or is a total stranger, there's a greater chance that you stink. Do they offer it out of nowhere? Is the pretense for the mint kind of flimsy? Are they cringing slightly, or smiling with their mouth but frowning with their eyebrows? As reporter Jill Haney recently wrote for the Cincinnati Enquirer, you may want to go ahead and accept that mint.
Or, on second thought, don't. Instead, carry your own specialty breath freshening mints. These can oxygenate your palate, wet your tongue and target odor, all without giving oral bacteria any sugars to live on.