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Serving the GW Community since 1904

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Officials to clear homeless encampment near campus in May
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • March 4, 2024

Ask Annie: How do I kindly tell my friend her breath is rank?

Your nose knows what’s right, it’s time to follow it.

Facing a problem yourself? Annie has answers. Ask away!

                      Graphic by Nicholas Anastacio

Dear Annie,

My friend’s breath smells soooo bad. At first, I thought I was the only one who noticed. Until we were at a party last weekend and I overheard this guy say, “Damn, (friend’s name) would be really hot if everytime she opened her mouth it didn’t smell like literal ass.” How do I tell her without hurting her feelings?

Help please,

Nose Goes

Dear Nose Goes,

As much as it stinks that you have to be the one to tell your friend about her breath, it would be so much nastier if she leaned in to kiss someone and they pulled away because of her breath. Since that’s what you’re up against, anything you say will be sweeter than that nightmare.

Consider your friend lucky. We all have features that could make us less attractive that we can’t fix easily — or at all – like height, voice pitch or having a boring personality. With the help of mints, mouthwash and even medication, your friend can fix her ailment! Even more so, bad breath isn’t just an issue romantically but could come up in friendships or job interviews. Keeping your concerns to yourself about an amenable issue is not the kindest thing long term.

Approach the issue with a brief, private conversation. Next time you are alone with your friend, come prepared with an assortment of mints and a solution-oriented mindset. Tell her your recent observations about her breath. Spare her any additional embarrassment by not mentioning that other people have noticed. But do ask her if she has been doing anything different recently that might affect her hygiene. Bad breath is oftentimes caused by more than just not brushing your teeth, like medication, infections or dehydration. Listen and offer to help her solve the problem so it doesn’t happen again.

An Ngo | Graphics Editor

If you’d rather take a passive approach, bring the issue to your friend’s attention by dropping hints. Next time you guys eat together, take out a mint or stick of gum for yourself and offer her one as well. If she declines, nudge her again, even insinuating your own breath smells rank after eating (depending on what you ate, it probably does). Don’t be afraid to act as an advertisement for breath mints, mention you keep a pack of TicTacs with you to have after a meal. Practicing good oral hygiene in front of her will encourage her to do so as well.

You wouldn’t be the first person to let someone know they have bad breath. On the popular sitcom “Ted Lasso,” Roy Kent, one of the show’s protagonists, has to help his niece Phoebe treat the pungent odor coming from her mouth. Phoebe, however, first heard about her bad breath from the bully at her elementary school and was humiliated because her loved ones didn’t catch it. Save your friend that embarrassment and let her know swiftly and compassionately.

Keep it minty fresh,


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