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Halitosis Challenge
Don't let bad breath put a stink on your romantic time.

Kaia Lai (www.kaialai.com)
These foods are good, but don't forget to pop a mint for your spouse.

Bad breath has ruined many a romantic and sexy mood. Yet, in the world of sex etiquette, who is responsible to take charge of said breath? Is it the smeller who is making an odor value judgment or the person with the halitosis?

Walking through Arrivals at the airport, I was greeted by a full on Hollywood kiss. Being a girl, I was really digging it and knew at once I must savor this moment because it doesn’t happen often. As I heard the curious crowd "ooh and ah," I tried to let the tears forming in my eyes appear to not be so obvious. When the embrace was done and I came up for air, I tried my best to refrain from gagging.

You see, my knight in shining armor’s breath smelled (and tasted for that matter) like he’d consumed an entire bulb of garlic at supper. Being a pragmatic gal, I thought to myself; if you’re going to plan such a grand romantic gesture, how can the teensy matter of breath be forgotten? Even if it’s a spur-of-the-moment inclination, in my world, it’s common sense to pop a breath mint after supper and before having contact with other human beings.

In the girl form of locker room talk (a.k.a. having coffee), my friends and I recounted how we couldn’t enjoy a romantic evening because our guy’s breath was repulsive. In trying to remedy the situation, we shared what we thought were obvious hints, like offering him a stick of gum, sprig of parsley or whatever breath freshener was available. He still didn't get it. (Please note: I am certain men have their own halitosis wife challenges too.)

When I asked the others why they didn’t just come out and tell him straight about the offending breath, a look of horror appeared on their face as they sputtered, "I just couldn’t."

Biting my tongue and feeling a bit sheepish, I thought of how I would’ve rather chewed off my arm than confronted my garlic-loving prince at the airport. My inner romantic girl voice screaming that if I told him, he’d become discouraged enough never to want to do something I relish.

There are some things in this life that don’t make much sense. Telling another human being they’ve got breath that could peel paint seems to be one of them. I decided to conduct an informal¬ study—okay, so it was mostly friends and relatives that were within earshot while writing this article—on why it is so difficult to tell someone they’ve got bad breath. There was complete consensus on why: all didn’t want to embarrass the other person, thereby breaking the romantic mood.

Let me get this straight. People don’t say anything because they don’t want to break up a romantic mood that’s already completely destroyed. Hmmm. To add insult to injury, as soon as turtle breath is out of earshot, the victim will go on about the other persons bad breath to anyone who will listen. It’s like living in a Seinfeld episode.

Coming back to my question of who should take charge of a bad breath situation, there are a couple of things to think about. First, ask yourself, “is the breath a one-off event (like the airport scene) or is it chronic?” If it’s the latter, a trip to the dentist may be in order.

Next, ask if there’s a laxness to the personal oral care regime. Think back to the start of a new relationship where many people silently crept out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to brush their teeth (or at least swipe toothpaste with their fingers over teeth) so their partner would wake-up and experience "toothpaste kisses."

Today, outside of the work environment, is a second thought ever given to the quality of some ones breath? Or is it presumed your partner will love you regardless.

I have a theory that one of the reasons couples lose the "want" to passionately kiss each other after many years together is because they don’t make such a fuss over the breath issue.

Good sex is all about preparation and the little things that make a big difference. If you want to get romantic and think you might have bad breath, simply lick the inside of your wrist and sniff. If you don’t like what you smell, immediately do something to alleviate the situation.

If nothing else, make sure to keep a pack of breathe fresheners at your bedside table when things start heating up…so they can stay heated up.

Dr. Trina Read has a doctorate in human sexuality. Dr. Read is also an international speaker and offers a free sex audio tip weekly on her website www.trinaread.com/t-sextips.

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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.

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