Anaerobic Bacteria – The Cause of Bad Breath

Bad breath or halitosis is caused as a result of accumulation of anaerobic bacteria- the cause of bad breath. Anaerobic bacteria are strict anaerobes; they cannot survive in the presence of atmospheric oxygen. Bad breath coming from the mouth or throat or stomach or sinus cavity is all caused by these odor causing anaerobes.

Location of anaerobic bacteria-

Anaerobic bacteria causing halitosis is present not only in the oral mouth but they are widely occupied in the throat, intestines, stomachs, sinus cavity, lymph nodes and lungs. Infections in these regions and organs can cause varying degree of halitosis. For instance, overgrowth of stomach bacteria in the esophagus can cause acid refluxes, resulting in bad breath.

However, in most of the individuals who suffer from chronic bad breath anaerobic bacteria- the cause of bad breath is frequently found in the mouth.

Tongue- the place for anaerobic bacteria

Most of the odor causing bacteria lives on the surface of the tongue and also underneath the tongues.

Other areas that harbor bacteria include gum line and in between the teeth. Food particles can get logged in between the teeth and these areas are difficult to clean merely by brushing. Logged in food debris provides ideal home for anaerobic bacteria to live and accumulate.

Anaerobic bacteria- the cause of bad breath can find anaerobic atmosphere to live even below the gum lines (in and around the teeth). Individual with gum diseases are mostly found to harbor these bacteria in their gum line. This is because periodontal diseases (gum diseases) cause the gums to recede away from the teeth resulting in pockets. These pockets serve as a haven for bad breath causing bacteria.

Imbalances of bacteria-

Imbalance between good and bad bacteria inside the mouth, throat, sinus cavity and stomach can cause overgrowth of harmful bacteria. This bacterial imbalance permits larger colonization of anaerobic bacteria thus, more production of volatile sulfur compounds causing bad breath.

Source of food for anaerobic bacteria- the cause of bad breath

Anaerobic bacteria most often feed on proteins ingested by us. Hence, protein foods are indirect cause of bad breath. Protein foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy foods, cereals and nuts consist of our diet. So, whenever we consume these proteins bacteria too get a share of meal. Proteins increase the metabolic activity of these bacteria inside the mouth. But they can also feed on other kinds of food. Leftover food particles inside the teeth and gums continuously provide nutrients for bacteria to feed thrive and flourish.

The breakdown of proteins and other food particles inside the mouth trapped in between the teeth releases these compounds. Rotten egg smell or sour foul smell that comes out from the mouth during breathing out is because of these bacterial metabolism waste products.

How oral anaerobic bacteria cause bad breath?

Bacteria too consume nutrients in food and excrete out waste products. These waste byproducts of bacterial metabolism are certain types of volatile sulfur compounds (dimethyl sulfide, methyl mercaptan) and hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell). Other waste products produced by the anaerobic bacteria that lives inside the mouth includes cadaverine (corpses smell), skatole (smell like human feces), isovaleric acid (sweaty feet smell) and putrescine (decaying meat smell).

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