Lactobacillus reuteri-containing gum can significantly reduce halitosis, Danish researchers have found, although the mechanism of action remains a mystery.
The team from the University of Copenhagen found bad breath levels were reduced compared to placebo among a group of 19-25 year old halitosis sufferers. However the study was small with only 16 in the Reuteri group and 12 in the placebo group.
The improvements were measured by organoleptic scores but tested levels of volatile sulphur compounds (VSC) showed no difference between the groups leading the researchers, led by Mette Kirstine Keller, PhD, to speculate on other bad-breath forming compounds and bacterias.
“The two probiotic L. reuteri strains used in this study are also known to produce a specific bacteriocin called reuterin but only in the presence of glycerol,” they wrote.
“The generally low levels of glycerol in the oral biofilm might be one of the reasons for the negative results of the VSC measurements.”
They added: “Whether or not the bacterial composition was altered in the present study remains an open question, but long-term studies are needed to evaluate the microbial pro!le of oral microbiota, with special emphasis on non-VSC producing bacteria, to further elucidate the research question.”
“It should also be underlined that the effect was not striking from a clinical point of view, nor subjectively or objectively, and the probiotics therapy may at its best only be an adjunct to the current treatment options.”
The researchers therefore concluded that the probiotic gum could, “have a slight beneficial effect” and could be useful as an adjunct to, “oral hygiene improvement and antibacterial rinses for the management of oral malodour”.
The participants were given a piece of gum in the morning and in the evening in the double blind, placebo-controlled, randomised cross-over trial.
The probiotic and placebo chewing gums had identical packaging, taste, size and colour. They consisted of isomalt, hydrogenated palm oil, sucrose esters of fatty acids, peppermint oil, menthol flavour and sucralose.
The gums were supplied by Swedish supplier, BioGaia, which has a version called 'Lactobacillus reuteri prodentis'. The Calcin Foundation in Denmark and Gyllenstiernska Krapperupsstiftelsen in Sweden also supported it.
Market researcher Euromonitor has commented that, “Probiotics are in line to become the next blockbuster functional ingredients in gum and mints.”
Acta Odontologica Scandinavica
‘Effect of chewing gums containing the probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri on oral malodour’
Authors : Mette K Keller, Allan Bardow, Thorbjorg Jensdottir, Joan Lykkeaa, Svante Twetman
Cutting edge health conditions for probiotics will be discussed at the NutraIngredients Pre & Probiotics virtual conference on February 1, 2012. More details here.