Targeted polymerase chain reaction-based expression of putative halitogenic bacteria and volatile sulphur compound analysis among halitosis patients at a tertiary hospital in Nigeria


Halitosis (bad breath) can be a cause of anxiety, depression and psychosocial stress, with pathological changes in the oral microbiota playing an important role in its development. Despite its prevalence, studies on the microbiology of halitosis are rare in Nigeria. This study determines the presence of five putative periodontal pathogens viz: Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia and Treponema denticola on the tongue dorsa of halitosis and non-halitosis patients using a 16S rDNA-directed polymerase chain reaction assay. Furthermore, an association of these bacteria with oral malodour [as assessed by volatile sulphur compounds (VSC) measurements] with a portable sulphide monitor, the Halimeter (Interscan Corp, Chatsworth, California), was performed. The results showed that the prevalence of halitosis in this environment as defined by VSC level above 160 ppb is 14.9%. Halitosis is affected by gender with males having it more than the females. Males also tend to present more with self-reported complaints of halitosis than females. Age does not appear to contribute to the incidence of halitosis. Fusobacterium nucleatum, P. gingivalis, P. intermedia are responsible for increased production of VSCs in halitosis patients while A. actinomycetemcomitans and T. denticola appear to play no part in the production of VSCs. Evaluation of halitogenic bacteria and VSCs may potentially become a surrogate biomarker for monitoring halitosis. Targeted assessment of putative halitogenic bacteria may provide a rapid point-of-care diagnostic tool for halitosis.

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HAA thanks the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) for a mid-career scientist and Self-initiated research grant; and the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) for incentive and research development grants for rated researchers.

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Correspondence to Henry Ademola Adeola.

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Adedapo, A.H., Kolude, B., Dada-Adegbola, H.O. et al. Targeted polymerase chain reaction-based expression of putative halitogenic bacteria and volatile sulphur compound analysis among halitosis patients at a tertiary hospital in Nigeria. Odontology 108, 450–461 (2020).

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  • Halitosis
  • Halitogenic bacteria
  • Volative sulphur compounds
  • Halimeter
  • Polymerase chain reaction