Biochemical and clinical factors influencing oral malodor in periodontal patients

J Periodontol. 1992 Sep;63(9):783-9. doi: 10.1902/jop.1992.63.9.783.


The amounts of volatile sulfur compounds (VSC) and methyl mercaptan/hydrogen sulfide ratio in mouth air from patients with periodontal involvement were 8 times greater than those of control subjects. Our studies demonstrated that, in patients with periodontal disease: 1) the concentration of disulfide, which is converted to VSC, increased in proportion to the total pocket depth; 2) 60% of the VSC was produced from the tongue surface; 3) the amount of tongue coating was 4 times greater than in control subjects; and 4) VSC production and the methyl mercaptan/hydrogen sulfide ratio of the tongue coating were increased. 2-Ketobutyrate, which is a byproduct of the metabolism of methionine to methyl mercaptan, was higher in the saliva of patients with periodontal disease. This implies that metabolism of methionine to methyl mercaptan increases in the oral cavity of patients with periodontal pockets. Since free L-methionine, rather than protein, is the main source for methyl mercaptan, we estimated the methionine supply from the gingival fluid into the oral cavity of patients with periodontal involvement. The results showed that the ratio of methionine to whole free amino acids was significantly higher than that of cysteine. Our studies suggest that not only microorganisms, but also the tongue coating and gingival fluid are factors which enhance VSC production in patients with periodontal disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Halitosis / etiology*
  • Halitosis / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Periodontal Diseases / complications*
  • Periodontal Diseases / metabolism
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Sulfur / analysis


  • Sulfur