Isolation of Enterobacteriaceae from the mouth and potential association with malodor

J Dent Res. 1997 Nov;76(11):1770-5. doi: 10.1177/00220345970760110801.


Bad breath is a common phenomenon, usually the result of bacterial metabolism in the oral cavity. It is generally accepted that Gram-negative bacteria are responsible for this problem, largely through degradation of proteinaceous substances. In initial experiments, screening of malodorous isolates following outgrowth of samples obtained from saliva, periodontal pockets, and the tongue dorsum yielded enterobacterial isolates. Clinical studies were conducted to examine the prevalence of such bacteria in four different populations: orthodontic patients, malodor clinic patients, complete-denture wearers, and a healthy young population. The prevalence of Enterobacteriaceae in the oral cavities of the denture-wearing population was very high (48.0%) as compared with the other groups: 27.1% in the malodor clinic patients, 16.4% in the normal population, and 13% among orthodontic patients. Isolates of Klebsiella and Enterobacter emitted foul odors in vitro which resembled bad breath, with concomitant production of volatile sulfides and cadaverine, both compounds related to bad breath. When incubated on a sterile denture, enterobacterial isolates produced typical denture foul odor. Isolates exhibited cell-surface hydrophobic properties when tested for adhesion to acryl and aggregation with ammonium sulphate. The results, taken together, suggest that Klebsiella and related Enterobacteriaceae may play a role in denture malodor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Dental Materials
  • Denture, Complete / microbiology
  • Enterobacteriaceae / isolation & purification*
  • Enterobacteriaceae / pathogenicity
  • Halitosis / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Methylmethacrylate
  • Methylmethacrylates
  • Mouth / microbiology*
  • Orthodontic Appliances / microbiology
  • Reference Values


  • Dental Materials
  • Methylmethacrylates
  • Methylmethacrylate