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Biologists flush out bad breath bug

Solobacterium moorei - a real stinker

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Biologists say they've identified the bacteria responsible for most cases of bad breath - Solobacterium moorei, which uses the tongue as a base on which to brew its halitosis-provoking fatty acids and malodorous compounds.

Two studies helped researchers confirm the findings, Reuters reports. One by the Buffalo School of Dental Medicine probed 21 people with chronic bad breath and 36 without and found S. moorei "in every patient that had halitosis".

S. moorei was found in four of the comparison group, and while they were not yet polluting the air with foul emissions, "all had periodontitis, an infection of the gums that can also lead to chronically bad breath".

A previous study of of eight subjects with halitosis and five without showed S. moorei was "always found in patients with halitosis and never in patients who did not have this problem".

Dr Violet I Haraszthy, who participated in both studies, confirmed to Reuters: "A number of other studies have also found this bacterium in halitosis patients."

Haraszthy admitted that "not much is known about this particular organism", although Buffalo School of Dental Medicine student Betsy Clark concluded: "As we identify and find out more about the bacteria that cause bad breath, we can develop treatments to reduce their numbers in the mouth."

The biologists presented their findings to Saturday's annual meeting of the American Association for Dental Research in Dallas. ®

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