Breath Parameters in Relation to Tongue Microbiota in a Healthy Population
Objectives: Halitosis has a worldwide prevalence of up to 30% and has an enormous impact on social and psychological well-being. Halitosis results from volatile suffer compound (VSC) production by the oral microbiota and is affected by different factors. Clinical studies describing these factors in healthy populations are limited. The aim of this study was to describe breath and tongue microbiota parameters in relation to clinical measurements and oral hygiene habits in a healthy population.
Methods: Systemically and periodontally healthy adults were clinically examined. Tongue coating thickness and colour were visually assessed and BOMP and plaque indices were scored. Oral hygiene habits were assessed using a questionnaire. Breath parameters were assessed by measuring VSC levels using a Halimeter and by organoleptic scoring. Microbial samples were collected from the posterior part of the tongue and bacterial composition was assessed using 16S rDNA amplicon sequencing (Illumina).
Results: 264 individuals (mean age ± SD: 22.59 yo ± 2.6; 45% females) were included. Tongue microbiota significantly differed by gender (F=1.78, p=0.042), tongue discoloration (F=4.02, p=0.0001), tongue coating thickness (F=3.17, p=0.0001), plaque index (F=2.04, p=0.0176), tongue brushing frequency (F=2.62, p=0.0005), and VSC levels (F=1.68, p=0.0194) but not with organoleptic score (F=1.03, p=0.3844) and BOMP (F=1.71, p=0.0500). Subjects with relatively high VSC levels contained significantly more Actinomyces, but less Neisseria compared to subjects with relatively low VSC levels. No relationship between tongue cleaning behaviour and tongue coating or discoloration was found.
Conclusions: There is a relationship between tongue microbiota and breath parameters in a healthy population. The influence of individual risk factors for developing halitosis should be further researched to clarify the role of the oral microbiota.