Bacterial Breath Freshener
By Plemmenos Grigorios, Greece
How parococcus is providing a novel way to treat bad breath without disrupting the natural flora of the mouth. Could this be the next generation of treatments for oral malodour?
Inhaling the bad breath of the person you are talking to is an experience everyone has had at least once. While it often seems that the smell comes from the lungs or the gastrointestinal system, in the majority of cases it is in fact from the mouth. The oral cavity is host to a wide variety of microorganisms which are metabolically active. The products of their metabolism are responsible for many oral diseases (such as caries and periodontitis). One of these is “oral malodor” or “oral halitosis”. “Oral malodor” is sometimes mixed up with halitophobia (self “oral malodor”) and is considered to be a category of it. However, halitophobia is the condition where patients falsely believe they have bad breath, even if none of the guilty micro-organisms are present. In these cases, treatment should focus on psychological support and routine treatment should be avoided.
Let‘s investigate some of the causes. Poor oral hygiene is the No1 reason that patients suffer from oral malodor. The logic is easy to understand; when your daily program lacks tooth brushing and use of dental floss or interdental brushes, your breath will not be so fresh. Another important factor is the diet. Recent consumption of garlic and onions could temporarily be responsible for the smell. Moreover, sweets and soft drinks, containing large quantities of glucose, remain the best “fuel” for the bacterial cells, resulting in an unpleasant breath. Xerostomia provoked by taking therapeutic drugs, stress or other general diseases may lead to bad breath due to a reduced quantity of saliva, which plays a vital role in immune defense of oral cavity.
Getting deeper into the pathogenesis of oral malodor, it is important to mention the molecules responsible for bad breath. Studies have concluded that the main substances responsible for it are Volatile Sulphur Compounds (VSCs). The most common are methyl mercaptan, dimethyl sulphide and hydrogen sulphide. Other substances that are also detected in a bad breath are diamines (putrescine, cadaverine) and short chain fatty acids. The areas of oral cavity that these emerge from are in most cases the gingival crevices (space between enamel and free gingiva) and the posterior dorsal tongue.
Until recently, the most common ways of counteracting oral malodor were the use of gums and mouthwashes. Both are aiming to the reduction of bacterial load in oral cavity. As well as these, the preservation of good oral hygiene was also suggested within preventive dentistry.
But today, a novel method has come up: the use of enzymes produced by bacterial cells that are metabolically active. According to Ramadhani et.al.,2017, the use of recombinant Sox enzymes from Paracoccus Pantotrophus GB17 degrades the amount of H2S,a major compound of VSCs. P. Pantotrophus GB17 is characterized by an enzyme complex, the Sox system. This bacterium produces these enzymes in order to oxidate chemical compounds containing sulphate to free sulphate without intermediates, in order to use them for energy. However, these compounds are also the same ones that cause bad breath.
The recombination of these Sox enzymes (rSoxA, rSoxB, rSoxCD, rSoxX ,rSoxY, rSoxZ) leads to a significant reduction of H2S in almost two hours and the levels of H2S are stabilized from then on. This ensures that there is not only a temporary impact. Although this study was conducted in vitro and still needs a lot of work in order to come to a clinical stage, it is encouraging that the maximum efficiency of the enzyme complex happens at pH 7, which is close to the one of saliva in oral cavity. With this method of using rSox enzymes the aim is to find a natural way to deal with oral malodor while avoiding the negative effects of other traditional ways. For example, chlorhexidine rinses reduce, without specificity, attack the commensal bacteria that play a key role in the natural oral flora, without targeting the VSCs that are responsible for the smell. This is a key advantage of this novel therapy.
Taking into consideration all the above it is clear that the research on the treatment of oral malodor could be redirected to a different perspective avoiding chemicals that have detrimental side effects. Nature can offer solutions that are more biocompatible and less harmful. However, even if these data are promising, it would be premature to talk about the imminent use of these methods as they are still on experimental stage. Cost may be an obstacle to the implementation of these enzymes to everyday treatments or even to their shelf-life. In all cases, new roads could open to this research field so as to get fully rid of bad breathing.