The Breath

fatal to friendship and to loveQ Dear Miss Abigail:

Sometimes I get self-conscious when talking to people because I have bad breath. It has lasted about three to four years now. I’m sixteen. Will I ever talk “carefree” again?


A Dear Viv:

According to Mrs. A. Walker in this excerpt from her book Female Beauty, you might want to think about consulting some kind of “medical man.” Take action soon ~ before all of your friends turn away, no longer willing to hear your carefree “whispers of confidence.” We certainly wouldn’t want that to happen!

1840: The Breath

Foul yellow teeth covered with tartar, are not only frightful to the sight, but communicate foetid effluvia to the breath, which is absolutely disgusting. Of all the antidotes to love, a foul breath is the most effectual; for, under the enchantment of a gracious smile, lies a mortifying and insuperable repulse.

No female can be too attentive, or take too much pains, in averting this dreadful calamity, for calamity it really is; the fond husband turns with ill-concealed loathing from the treacherous salute, and the friend who has listened to the whisper of confidence will not again submit herself to the infectious atmosphere. The feeling of disgust is destructive, alike fatal to friendship and to love.

Extreme attention to cleanliness of the teeth and mouth, a regular life, early hours, and wholesome food, can alone preserve the natural purity of the breath.

The Tongue, Throat, &c. In unhealthy persons, a kind of mucus sometimes exists upon the tongue, which ought to be removed, as it covers and destroys the delicacy of the papillae or little eminences which are the organs of taste, and must besides be offensive.

The throat should be gargled every morning with fresh water.

If the breath be in the slightest degree unpleasant, and there is a certainty that it does not arise from the teeth, it must originate from a disordered state of the stomach or of the lungs. Attention to the state of the digestive organs is indespensable in the first case; and the last requires generally the aid of a medical man.

Above all things, it must be remembered that the teeth cannot long continue sound if the diet be unwholesome or the digestion impaired.

It was a custom of the Grecian women, in order to improve this portion of their personal attractions, to hold a piece of myrtle between their teeth. The Roman ladies of our day have still a strong predilecation for the myrtle. But the use of masticatories is a bad practice; and the pure sweetness resulting from health and cleanliness is far more delightful than all the artificial perfumes of the medicinal gums.

Source: Walker, Mrs. A. Female Beauty, as Preserved and Improved by Regimen, Cleanliness and Dress. New York: Scofield and Voorhies, 1840.
~ pp. 199-201 ~