Fermented foods could provide cure to halitosis - study

Halitosis, also known as “oral malodor,” is the third-most-common disease for patient referral to the dentist.

 Researchers may have finally found the cure to halitosis. (photo credit: PEXELS)
Researchers may have finally found the cure to halitosis.
(photo credit: PEXELS)

People suffering from chronic bad breath (halitosis) regularly use mouthwashes, breath sprays, scaling and tongue scraping to try to get rid of it, but usually, they are not successful. Now, researchers in Berlin have found a way to combat this condition – and it's as simple as consuming probiotic bacteria in fermented foods

Probiotic bacteria are found in yogurt, sourdough bread, miso soup and other fermented foods. A meta-analysis of the available evidence on the subject has just been published in the open-access journal BMJ Open under the title “Efficacy of probiotics in the management of halitosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis” by Dr. Michael Schaefer of the Berlin Medical School and Dr. Paul Enck of the University of Tubingen in Germany. 

Halitosis, also known as “oral malodor,” is the third-most-common disease for patient referral to the dentist, ranking only behind dental cavities and periodontal disease.

According to an epidemiological study, over a quarter of all adults suffer from the disease. Halitosis has a significant impact on both patients’ daily work and social activities and may even result in frequent psychological problems such as anxiety, depression and social isolation.

 Could fermented food hold the cure to chronic bad breath? (credit: PXHERE) Could fermented food hold the cure to chronic bad breath? (credit: PXHERE)

How was the research carried out?

Volatile sulphuric compounds produced by mouth bacteria as a result of bacterial mixing and food debris associated with poor gum and dental hygiene are the main cause of persistent bad breath. The number of participants in each study was small, ranging from 23 to 68, with an age range between 19 and 70. The number of eligible clinical trials for pooled data analysis to seven and involved a total of 278 people.

Bad breath severity was defined by levels of volatile sulphuric compounds detected in the mouth or the OLP score, which measures breath odor at various distances from the mouth.

The pooled data analysis showed that OLP scores fell significantly in those given probiotics including Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus reuteri, Streptococcus salivarius and Weissella cibaria in the form of supplements, compared with those who did not, irrespective of the length of the monitoring period.

Tongue-coating scores and the plaque index on teeth were included in the analysis because a dirty tongue and the build-up of tartar between the teeth are often regarded as major causes of bad breath.

Probiotics may inhibit the decomposition of amino acids and proteins by anaerobic bacteria in the mouth, thus curbing the production of smelly by-products, the researchers explained.

“More high-quality randomized clinical trials are required in the future to verify the results and to provide evidence for the efficacy of probiotics in the management of halitosis,” they added.