Am I being rude if choose to brush and floss my teeth in the office bathroom?

Peter Post of The Boston Globe addresses a reader question about ethics and oral hygiene in the workplace. Is it offensive to brush and floss in a common office bathroom? Let’s see what he has to say.

Q: I like to brush and floss my teeth after lunch. I do this in the office bathroom without any flourish. I stand to the side and don’t engage in conversation or use the sink too loudly. However, I still wonder if I’m being rude, even if I brush and floss following the rules of discretion.

S. J., Newton

A: I applaud your behavior. Not only are you appropriately addressing a personal grooming issue that we should all work on – keeping your breath fresh and your teeth clean – you’re also doing your brushing in the right place. Instead of thinking of yourself as rude, think of yourself as a role model others in your office would do well to emulate.

Bad breath can be a real relationship killer, both in your personal and your professional life. As soon as someone notices bad breath in another person, the focus goes to that person’s bad breath rather than on what he or she has to say. By brushing your teeth after lunch, you’re giving yourself a leg up on all your colleagues who don’t do anything to keep their breath fresh. Rest assured: You are doing the right thing and setting an excellent example.

For fresh breath all throughout your work day, I recommend the Therabreath travel kit. Great for carrying around.

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