The Negative Effects of Volatile Sulphur Compounds

J Vet Dent. 2015 Summer;32(2):99-102. doi: 10.1177/089875641503200203.


Oral malodor has been studied extensively in humans but not necessarily to the same degree in our veterinary patients where malodor constitutes a significant problem. Breath malodor may originate from the mouth, or from an extra oral source, originating from other organ systems such as gastrointestinal, respiratory, or even systemic disease. Oral malodor is a result of microbial metabolism of exogenous and endogenous proteinaceous substrates leading to the production of compounds such as indole, skatole, tyramine, cadaverine, puterescine, mercaptans, and sulphides. Volatile sulphur compounds have been shown to be the main cause of oral malodor. Although most clients perceive oral malodor to be primarily a cosmetic problem, there is an increasing volume of evidence in human dental literature demonstrating that volatile sulphur compounds produced by bacteria, even at low concentrations, are toxic to tissues and play a role in the pathogenesis of periodontitis. This article reviews the current available literature in human dentistry looking at these negative effects. No veterinary studies have been conducted looking at the negative effects of volatile sulphur compounds specifically, but as this article highlights, we should be aware of the potential negative effects of volatile sulphur compounds and consider this an area of future research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Halitosis / metabolism
  • Halitosis / microbiology
  • Halitosis / veterinary*
  • Humans
  • Mouth / metabolism
  • Sulfur Compounds / metabolism*


  • Sulfur Compounds