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should I tell someone they have bad breath?

I told my dad he had bad breath

Should I tell someone they have bad breath?

this question comes up again and again and if people aren’t saying it out loud they are definitely thinking it from time to time

my dad had bad breath

my parents live in a different town and I don’t visit them very often

I made the journey to see them one Christmas

When I got through the front door I noticed my dad had an overwhelming mothball and sulfur fug surrounding him

This odor followed him everywhere and hung around behind him until a breeze of cool air carried it away

I told my dad straight away that I could smell plaque on his breath and asked him when he last got his teeth checked

He couldn’t remember his last dentist visit and was adamant he didn’t have bad breath

I immediately became the bad guy for offending him and it wasn’t spoken about again at all that visit

no-one told my dad he had bad breath

Here’s the sad thing about my dad’s bad breath

My mother lives with my dad and had not once told him that his breath was very strong

She did however open all the windows and doors very early in the morning and close them very late at night

she also slept in a different bed and give him a very wide berth

My sister visits my parents often and had also not mentioned my dads offensive breath to him

She gave him an electric toothbrush that Christmas though and I noticed she, along with my brother also gave my dad plenty of personal space

I helped my dad with his bad breath

On the long drive home I thought of my dad socializing and out in public with his terrible breath

It broke my heart that his family were letting him, obliviously, offend many friends and strangers with his unpleasant odor

his family should support him and help him to be his best self

As soon as I got home I located several dental clinics in my dads town

Straight after the Christmas holidays I booked, paid for and filled out the forms for a dental hygienist visit for him

He was still unhappy with me but went along to the appointment

afterward he reported it went well and that the hygienist thought he had great teeth

my dad now smells great

I visited my dad a few weeks after his appointment and he smelled fantastic and I told him so

He seemed happy

I noticed the doors and windows were no longer wide open

and I have no doubt his acquaintances were much more comfortable in his company

This isn’t the only bad odor confrontation I’ve had with my dad, but it was the one which made me realize a couple of things:

sometimes you need to be the bad guy to help a loved one to be their best selves and

being the bad guy to help a loved one makes you stronger and gives you courage to do other hard things

should you tell someone if they have bad breath?


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