Stomach ulcer bug causes bad breath

Nov 24, 2008

Bacteria that cause stomach ulcers and cancer could also be giving us bad breath, according to research published in the December issue of the Journal of Medical Microbiology. For the first time, scientists have found Helicobacter pylori living in the mouths of people who are not showing signs of stomach disease.

The mouth is home to over 600 different species of bacteria, some of which can cause disease. Helicobacter pylori has recently been shown to cause stomach ulcers and is also responsible for a large proportion of gastric cancers. Scientists estimate that between 20 and 80 % of people in the developed world and over 90 % of people in the developing world carry the bacterium.

"Recently, scientists discovered that H. pylori can live in the mouth," said Dr Nao Suzuki from Fukuoka Dental College in Fukuoka, Japan. "We wanted to determine whether the bacteria can cause bad breath, so we tested patients complaining of halitosis for the presence of H. pylori."

The researchers found the bacteria in the mouths of 21 out of 326 Japanese people with halitosis (6.4%). In these people, the concentration of a bad breath gas and the level of oral disease was significantly higher. In patients with periodontal (gum) disease, 16 of 102 people (15.7%) had H. pylori in their mouths.

"Halitosis is a common problem in humans, and bad breath is largely caused by periodonitis, tongue debris, poor oral hygiene and badly fitted fillings," said Dr. Suzuki. "Bacteria produce volatile compounds that smell unpleasant, including hydrogen sulphide, methyl mercaptan and dimethyl sulphide. Doctors often measure the levels of these compounds to diagnose the problem. Gastrointestinal diseases are also generally believed to cause halitosis."

Patients who were carrying H. pylori had more blood in their saliva and were also carrying Prevotella intermedia, which is one of the major periodontal bacteria.

"Although the presence of H. pylori in the mouth does not directly cause bad breath, it is associated with periodontal disease, which does cause bad breath," said Dr. Suzuki. "We now need to look into the relationship between H. pylori in the mouth and in the stomach. We hope to discover the role of the mouth in transmitting H. pylori stomach infections in the near future."

Source: Society for General Microbiology

Explore further: Warning coloration paved the way for louder, more complex calls in certain species of poisonous frogs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Nokia turnaround since handset unit sale continues

2 hours ago

Nokia appears to have turned around its fortunes after the sale of its ailing cellphone unit to Microsoft, reporting a third-quarter net profit of 747 million euros ($950 million), from a loss of 91 million euros a year earlier. ...

Yahoo CEO defends strategy in face of criticism

2 hours ago

Signaling her reign has reached a pivotal juncture, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is trying to convince restless shareholders that the long-struggling Internet company is heading in the right direction.

Recommended for you

Cat dentals fill you with dread?

Oct 24, 2014

A survey published this year found that over 50% of final year veterinary students in the UK do not feel confident either in discussing orodental problems with clients or in performing a detailed examination of the oral cavity ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Yes
not rated yet Nov 24, 2008
Hope they find a cheap, easy and over all fast cure. 20% is epidemic not to mention 90%, many people contract stomach cancer or ulcers. This costs insurance companies (billed to you and me) fortunes.