Researchers have isolated bacteria which can grow on and 'mop up'smelly compounds in the mouth that are linked to bad breath. Thesesmelly, highly reactive 'one-carbon' compounds are naturally producedfrom the breakdown of sulphur-containing amino acids in the mouth.
Dr Ann Wood and her colleagues at Kings College, London, reportedthese findings in the August issue of Environmental Microbiology. Theodour-eating methylotrophic bacteria were isolated from the tongue,tooth plaques (supra-gingival plaques) and gum edge (sub-gingivalplaques) of volunteers. They include strains of Bacillus,Brevibacterium casei, Hyphomicrobium sulfonivorans1, Methylobacterium,Micrococcus luteus and Variovorax paradoxus.
The composition and function of bacterial flora of the mouthhave been extensively studied in the past, but until now it was notrecognised that methylotrophic bacteria are part of the normal oralmicrobial environment or 'microflora'.
The researchers found no difference between strains of bacteriafound in the mouths of healthy volunteers and those suffering fromprogressive gum disease (periodontitis), a condition which is oftenassociated with smelly breath. However, no assessment was made of thelevels of methylotrophic bacteria present, low levels of which may beassociated with bad breath.
In a previous paper, Dr Wood et al found that the foot is alsoa source of methylated sulphides and strains of these odour eatingbacteria, including Brevibacterium and Methylobacterium, which are alsopart of the normal foot microbial flora.
The results of this study will assist future investigation intothe detection of the levels of methylotrophic bacteria and theirpossible relationship with the oral concentrations of methylatedsulphides. This may lead to a natural way of reducing smelly breath andfeet.
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