Association between oral malodor and adult periodontitis: A review

Manabu Morita, Hom Lay Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

161 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Bad breath has a significant impact on our daily social life to those who suffer from it. The majority of bad breath originates within the oral cavity. However, it is also possible that it can come from other sources such as gastric-intestine imbalance. The term "oral malodor" is used to describe a foul or offensive odor emanating from the oral cavity, in which proteolysis, metabolic products of the desquamating cell, and bacterial putrefaction are involved. Recent evidence has demonstrated a link between oral malodor and adult periodontitis. The process of developing bad breath is similar to that noted in the progression of gingivitis/ periodontitis. Oral malodor is mainly attributed to volatile sulfur compounds (VSC) such as hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan and dimethyl sulfide. The primary causative microbes are gram-negative, anaerobic bacteria that are similar to the bacteria causing periodontitis. These bacteria produce the VSC by metabolizing different cells/tissues (i.e., epithelial cells, leukocytes, etc.) located in saliva, dental plaque, and gingival crevicular fluid. Tongue surface is composed of blood components, nutrients, large amounts of desquamated epithelial cells and bacteria, suggesting that it has the proteolytic and putrefactive capacity to produce VSC. One of the challenges in dealing with oral malodor is to identify a reliable test for detecting bad breath. Aims: The purposes of this review article were: (1) to correlate the relationship between oral malodor and adult periodontitis; (2) to analyze current malodor tests and discuss available treatment regimens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)813-819
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Periodontology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Halitosis/pathogenesis
  • Oral malodor/etiology and treatment
  • Oral malodor/periodontal disease
  • Sulfur compounds/toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Periodontics


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