The rationale and potential for the reduction of oral malodour using Streptococcus salivarius probiotics

Oral Dis. 2005:11 Suppl 1:29-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-0825.2005.01084.x.


The primary treatment for oral malodour is the reduction of bacterial populations, especially those present on the tongue, by use of a variety of antimicrobial agents or mechanical devices. However, shortly after treatment the problematic bacteria quickly repopulate the tongue and the malodour returns. In our studies, we have used a broadly-active antimicrobial (chlorhexidine) to effect temporary depletion of the oral microbiota and then have attempted to repopulate the tongue surface with Streptococcus salivarius K12, a benign commensal probiotic. The objective of this is to prevent re-establishment of non-desirable bacterial populations and thus help limit the re-occurrence of oral malodour over a prolonged period. In this paper, we discuss why contemporary probiotics are inadequate for treatment of oral malodour and examine the rationale for selection of particular bacterial species for future use in the treatment of this condition. In our preliminary trials of the use of a chlorhexidine rinse followed by strain K12 lozenges, the majority (8/13) of subjects with confirmed halitosis maintained reduced breath levels of volatile sulphur compounds for at least 2 weeks. We conclude that probiotic bacterial strains originally sourced from the indigenous oral microbiotas of healthy humans may have potential application as adjuncts for the prevention and treatment of halitosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Halitosis / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Tongue / microbiology
  • Viridans Streptococci*