Study Examines the Genesis of Oral Malodor
Regardless of its origin, oral malodor is a frequent complaint. Affecting between 30% to 50% of the general population, its root cause has been linked to a host of microorganisms present on the tongue—and its presence may even suggest an underlying oral or systemic disease. Chinese researchers examined the microbial basis of oral malodor in humans, publishing their results online in October in the Journal of Dental Research.
The scientists used a cross-sectional and longitudinal study design, in addition to pyrosequencing, to track, compare, and examine the tongue microbiota of 29 Chinese adults. Samples were collected at the Hai Tai He Chang Clinical Research Center in Beijing from 29 subjects between the ages of 19 and 47. Participants were evaluated for 3 days, with hydrogen sulfide (H2S) levels—a volatile sulfur compound that produces unpleasant odor—measured daily; other measurements included DNA sampling and the collection of tongue plaque.
The data showed no difference in H2S values based on gender and age alone. Varying levels of H2S were then divided into three subgroups: healthy; oral malodor; and severe oral malodor. Next, tongue microbiota were grouped based on the H2S reading. Researchers noted that the community structure of tongue plaque was closely linked to changes in oral malodor, suggesting that tongue plaque might house oral malodor-releasing bacteria. The scientists asserted that Prevotella—a periodontal pathogen—and Leptotrichia—a normally occurring bacteria that proliferates in greater numbers among some individuals—are strongly associated with oral malodor, a conclusion supported by previous research. Further study is warranted, the authors note, to determine oral malodor’s pathological process.
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