'Good' Bacteria Fight Bad Breath

Scientists have found bacteria that fight bad breathand smelly feet.

The bacteria weren't concocted in a lab or discovered deep in a tropical rainforest. They were spotted in a very common location: the human mouth.

In fact, some of those bacteria may be snuffing out bad breath in your mouth right now, if researcher Ann Wood and colleagues are right. Their report appears in Environmental Microbiology.

Wood is a senior lecturer in the life sciences department of King's College London.

Odor-Eating Bacteria

Lots of bacteria like to set up shop in the mouth. Some are pesky, like the bacteria tied to gum disease. Those bacteria may also be bad for your heart, but brushing and flossing can help get rid of them.

Other bacteria in the mouth may freshen your breath, write Wood and colleagues. The bacteria probably don't smell pretty. They don't act like perfume, masking bad smells.

Instead, the bacteria eat stinky compounds, write the researchers. Those compounds are released when proteins containing sulphur break down in the mouth.

'Good' Bacteria Found in Mouth, Feet

The helpful bacteria were found in the mouths of healthy volunteers and those with gum disease. The researchers had previously found the same kind of bacteria on human feet.

Bad breath or smelly feet might be due in part to low levels of the bacteria, the researchers suggest. But they didn't check bacteria levels in the volunteers.

More studies on the topic may lead to a natural way of reducing bad breath and smelly feet.

Meanwhile, practicing good hygiene may help. A doctor may be able to help with serious cases.

Sources: Anesti, V. Environmental Microbiology, August 2005; vol 7: pp 1227-1238. News release, Blackwell Publishing.


By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD
© 2005, WebMD Inc. All rights reserved
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