JAN 04, 2023 1:00 PM PST

Certain fermented foods could help prevent bad breath

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

Waking up with bad breath is always a buzz kill. But what happens when bad breath persists, despite your every effort to get rid of it?

You wouldn’t be alone. Bad breath is one of the most common reasons people go to the dentist (aside from routine dental cleanings and cavities). Bad breath that doesn’t go away is caused by certain bacteria in the mouth, which produce certain sulfur compounds that keep your breath rank. That’s why brushing your teeth or using mouthwash all the time doesn’t always help. While not inherently life threatening, it can be a source of personal embarrassment.

So what can people with constant bad breath do? According to researchers, certain probiotic bacteria found in fermented foods may offer a solution. The research team published results of a study examining the effects of probiotic bacteria on breath in a recent article in BMJ Open.

As part of their study, researchers conducted a review of existing studies examining the effects of probiotic bacteria on bad breath. They found published findings from seven clinical trials examining this connection. These studies used various ways to measure bad breath, including analysis of sulfur compounds in the mouth and clinician-reported severity of bad breath.

Using these measurements of bad breath, researchers were also able to compare this data to data about trial participant consumption of probiotic bacteria (Lactobacillus salivarius and Lactobacillus reuteri, specifically). Overall, researchers found that when compared to a placebo, probiotic bacteria actually led to a decrease in these bad breath-producing compounds. However, these changes were only temporary.

While the findings align with existing understand of what drives bad breath, more research is needed to better confirm the connection between probiotic bacteria and bad breath. There is also a need to study whether actual fermented foods, including yogurt or sourdough bread, have an impact on breath when compared to bacteria consumed as a supplement. The presence of other food products could contribute to bad breath, just in different ways.

Sources: NBC News; BMJ Open  

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
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