Specific Bacterium Found in 100 Percent of Halitosis Patients

By Lois Baker

Release Date: March 28, 2008

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Oral biologists at the University at Buffalo have confirmed that a bacterium known as Solobacterium moorei is directly associated with chronic bad breath, or halitosis.

Halitosis is a long-lasting and often emotionally devastating condition caused primarily by bacteria living in the mouth. Researchers in the UB School of Dental Medicine have been in the forefront in identifying the bacteria that cause bad breath.

In this most recent investigation, UB researchers found that in a case-control study involving 21 persons diagnosed with halitosis (cases) and 36 who did not have halitosis (controls), S. moorei was present in the mouths of all 21 case subjects.

Four people in the control group also were infected with S. moorei, but those subjects all had periodontitis, an infection of the gums, rather than halitosis.

Results of the research were presented today (April 5, 2008) at the American Association of Dental Research meeting in Dallas, Texas.

Betsey Clark, a UB dental school student, is first author on the study.

"Bacteria on the top (dorsal) surface of the tongue are the primary source of oral halitosis," said Clark. "Tongue bacteria produce malodorous compounds and fatty acids, and account for 80-90 percent of all cases of bad breath." Some cases of halitosis originate in the lungs or sinuses.

"Our previous studies suggest a close association between S. moorei and halitosis. In those studies we found the bacteria in all eight subjects with halitosis compared to none of the five control subjects. In the present study we examined the prevalence of S. moorei in a larger subject group."

All subjects in the research underwent specific tests to detect the presence and amount of sulfur-containing compounds associated with halitosis. All control subjects showed negative results. These tests were followed by tongue scrapings, which were analyzed by a laboratory procedure called a dot blot test to identify specific types of bacteria.

"S. moorei was found in 100 percent of participants with halitosis and 14 percent of those without halitosis," said Clark. "As we identify and find out more about the bacteria that cause bad breath, we can

develop treatments to reduce their numbers in the mouth and eliminate bad breath. Currently, we are studying the effect of different antibiotics and antiseptics to see which are most effective against S. moorei."

Also contributing to the research from UB were Peter Moses, a dental student; Violet I. Haraszthy, D.D.S., Ph.D., associate professor of restorative dentistry; and Joseph J. Zambon, D.D.S., Ph.D., professor of periodontology and oral biology and associate dean for academic affairs in the UB dental school. P.K. Sreenivasan, Ph.D., from the Colgate Palmolive Global Technology Center, also contributed to the study.

The study was supported by Colgate Palmolive.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. The School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, School of Dental Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and School of Public Health and Health Professions are the five schools that constitute UB's Academic Health Center. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.