Why can't I smell my own bad breath?
Numerous researchers have pointed to the same contradiction in the logic behind the extent of human bad breath - namely, that the majority of people suffer from halitosis, but very few know when they have it. Many individuals are also not sure what to do about it, especially when it persists. Here is a rundown of what keeps our own bad breath from us and what treats it, both immediately and over time.
An article published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) calls this enigma the Bad Breath Paradox. The study points to several previous investigations, all of which indicated that people tend to be terrible at gauging the smell of their breath.
In one study, the idea of how their breath should smell impaired participants' abilities to judge the extent of their halitosis. In another conducted by the same team of researchers, men were significantly worse than women at rating their own breath.
The authors of the JADA paper suggest that our inability to smell our own oral odor stems from some evolutionary adaptation. After all, certain scents just don't need to be detected all the time. Have you ever wondered why you can't smell the inside of your nose? There's a fairly simple reason - if you could, it would be harder to smell everything else.
The same principle applies to your breath. Your nose and mouth are connected, as are your senses of taste and smell. Because of this interconnectedness, this system must ignore the presence of certain constant odors, one of which is bad breath.
Author Eric Schlosser addresses this idea in his investigative exposee of the fast food industry, titled Fast Food Nation. He notes that "the mind filters out the overwhelming majority of chemical aromas that surround us." This principle, that people can get used to bad odors, is one reason why people can be garbage workers without going insane.
It's also the reason why you have trouble smelling your own breath.
What can you do to improve your breath? There are a number of options. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette recommends that you consume more water and vegetables, which ensure that your mouth has enough saliva to neutralize odor causing bacteria.
You may also consider regularly using a specialty breath freshening rinse, tongue scraper or probiotic product, like the Aktiv K-12 Probiotics Kit. Such items can wash away or slowly replace bacteria, while neutralizing the odor molecules given off by microbes in your mouth.