Relationship between tongue coating and secretory-immunoglobulin A level in saliva obtained from patients complaining of oral malodor

J Clin Periodontol. 2003 Dec;30(12):1017-23. doi: 10.1046/j.0303-6979.2003.00407.x.


Aim: The aim of this study was to confirm the relationships between oral malodor and periodontal condition, oral malodor and tongue coating, and to investigate the secretory-immunoglobulin A (S-IgA) level in saliva in relation to the accumulation of tongue coating.

Methods: Fifty-four patients complaining of oral malodor were included in the study. Their periodontal conditions, tongue coating status and salivary characteristics (flow rate, protein and S-IgA concentrations) were assessed in addition to the level of volatile sulfur compounds (VSC) in oral cavity. The patients were divided into three groups according to their tongue coating level.

Results: There are significant relationships between oral malodor and specific periodontal parameters used. The degree of tongue coating was also significantly correlated with the amount of H2S, CH3SH and the total amount of VSC determined. The concentration of S-IgA in the group identified as slight tongue coating was significantly higher than in the moderate or the severe group. By Western immunoblotting analysis, a high level of S-IgA specific to Streptococcus species was recognized in all groups, whereas the reactivity of Porphyromonas gingivalis and Fusobacterium nucleatum with S-IgA was very weak in both the slight and the moderate groups.

Conclusion: Data herein indicate that tongue coating is closely related to oral malodor. Furthermore, S-IgA in saliva may influence the accumulation of tongue coating, and S-IgA antibodies directed to Streptococcus species may play a role in protective immunity against the initial colonization of tongue plaque.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dental Plaque / microbiology
  • Dental Plaque / pathology
  • Female
  • Fusobacterium nucleatum / isolation & purification
  • Halitosis / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / analysis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Periodontal Index
  • Periodontal Pocket / metabolism
  • Periodontal Pocket / microbiology
  • Periodontitis / metabolism
  • Periodontitis / microbiology
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / isolation & purification
  • Saliva / chemistry*
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides / analysis
  • Secretory Rate / physiology
  • Streptococcus / isolation & purification
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds / analysis
  • Tongue / pathology*


  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds
  • Hydrogen Sulfide