Halitosis - prevention and treatment (completed)
Oral malodour, also known as bad breath or halitosis is a relatively common problem in many societies.
Approximately 50 % of the general population experience bad breath upon arising in the morning, known as morning breath, which is attributable to physiological causes. A reduced saliva flow at night allows the accumulation of volatile compounds that are otherwise solubilized by the saliva. Morning breath is readily controlled, however in about 10-20 % of the population bad breath persists throughout the day. This condition may be due to local oral factors, as in about 90 % of cases, or be indicative of systemic disorders, such as gastrointestinal ulcers. Within the oral cavity, anaerobic bacteria found in crypts on the dorso-posterior region of the tongue, or in periodontal pockets, degrade proteinaceous substrate. This may include exfoliated epithelial cells, salivary components, blood components and food debris. Sulphur-containing amino acids (ie. cystine, cysteine and methionine) are broken catabolized to foul smelling volatile sulphur compounds (VSC). Hydrogen sulphide (H2S, rotten eggs smell) and methyl mercaptan (CH3SH, pungent, rotten cabbage smell) are the two most commonly formed VSC, while dimethyl sulphide ((CH3)2S, unpleasant sweet smell) is a minor component. Oral malodour is associated with poor oral hygiene, dental plaque, dental caries, gingivitis, stomatitis, periodontitis, tongue coating, and oral carcinoma. Dry mouth (xerostomia) may also produce oral malodour demonstrating the role of saliva in solubilizing the VSC. It is due to the reduced saliva flow during sleep favouring anaerobic bacterial putrification, which gives rise to the previously mentioned ‘morning breath’.
The ‘morning breath’ common in most individuals usually disappears after a eating and drinking followed by oral hygiene procedures. Skipping the morning meal is a certain way of exacerbating a mild halitosis problem. This project is ongoing and currently involves a co-operation with the industry to produce more effective oral care products that act to inhibit of reduce the formation of VSC.