Are You Okay to Kiss?May 19, 2009
A quick breath check in the palm of your hand can never give accurate results. Whether you're about to lean in for a smooch or start a job interview, you're better off asking a trusted friend if your breath is sweet. But what if a friend isn't around when you need one?
Tel Aviv University researchers have come up with the ultimate solution - a pocket-size breath test which lets you know if malodorous bacteria are brewing in your mouth. A blue result suggests you need a toothbrush. But if it's clear, you're "okay to kiss."
Until now, scientists believed that only one population of bacteria (the Gram-negative ones) break down the proteins in the mouth and produce foul odor. But Prof. Mel Rosenberg and Dr. Nir Sterer of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine recently discovered that the other population of bacteria (the Gram-positive ones) are bad breath's bacterial partner. These bacteria appear to help the Gram-negative ones by producing enzymes that chop sugary bits off the proteins that make them more easily degraded. This enzymatic activity, present in saliva, serves as the basis for the new "OkayToKiss" test.
Prof. Rosenberg, international authority on the diagnosis and treatment of bad breath, who co-developed the kit with Dr. Sterer, published their findings this past March in the Journal of Breath Research, of which Prof. Rosenberg is editor-in-chief. An earlier invention of Prof. Rosenberg led to the development of two-phase mouthwashes that have become a hit in the UK, Israel and elsewhere.
From the Lab to Your Pocket
The patent-pending invention is the result of ongoing research in Prof. Rosenberg's laboratory.
"All a user has to do is dab a little bit of saliva onto a small window of the OkayToKiss kit," explains Prof. Rosenberg: "OkayToKiss will turn blue if a person has enzymes in the mouth produced by the Gram-positive bacteria. The presence of these enzymes means that the mouth is busily producing bacteria that foster nasty breath," he explains.
Apart from its social uses, the test can be used as an indicator of a person's oral hygiene, encouraging better health habits, such as flossing, brushing the teeth, or scheduling that long-delayed visit to the dentist.
OkayToKiss could be ready in about a year for commercial distribution, probably in the size of a pack of chewing gum, to fit in a pocket or purse. It is disposable and could be distributed alongside breath-controlling products.
The Science Behind the Smells
"For about 7 years now, we've suspected that there's another kind of bacteria at work in the mouth which causes bad breath," says Prof. Rosenberg. "Now, we are able to grow these bacteria from saliva in an artificial biofilm, showing that there are two distinct populations at work."
In the biofilm - the basis of the new breath test - the color difference between the Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria is remarkable. In the top layer of the biofilm, the bacterium take the glycoproteins in the saliva and chop off sugar residues to produce volatile proteins. On the lower layer in the biofilm, which could roughly be compared to one's tongue or inner lining of the mouth, reside the known and established Gram-negative bacteria.
Biomarkers, like the ones used by Prof. Rosenberg's new invention, are the basis of popular diagnostic kits today, like home pregnancy tests or glucose monitors used by diabetics. Checking the sweetness of one's breath may seem frivolous, but millions worry about it on a continual basis. Prof. Rosenberg's continued research into biomarkers in saliva is very promising for diagnosing other more serious disorders, including indicators for lung cancer, asthma and ulcers.
Prof. Rosenberg has summarized his twenty years of his research and experience on bad breath problems in a new book, Save Your Breath, due out in two months. This new work is a collaborative effort with Dr. Nir Sterer and Dr. Miriam Shaharbany of the Sackler Medical Faculty.
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Related Bad Breath Current Events and Bad Breath News Articles
Scientists' silk structure is secret to process of regenerating salivary cells
The silkworm, which produces the essential ingredient for fine silk fabric, also plays a critical role in a new process designed to provide relief for millions of individuals with dry mouth, a devastating oral and systemic health issue.
Adolescents uncertain about risks of marijuana, e-cigarettes, Stanford study finds
Teenagers are very familiar with the risks of smoking cigarettes, but are much less sure whether marijuana or e-cigarettes are harmful, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Dental anesthesia may interrupt development of wisdom teeth in children
Researchers from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine have discovered a statistical association between the injection of local dental anesthesia given to children ages two to six and evidence of missing lower wisdom teeth.
First gene therapy study in human salivary gland shows promise
Gene therapy can be performed safely in the human salivary gland, according to scientists at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), part of the National Institutes of Health.
Dental pulp stem cells transformed by 'bad breath' chemical
Japanese scientists have found that the odorous compound responsible for halitosis - otherwise known as bad breath - is ideal for harvesting stem cells taken from human dental pulp.
Give Dirty Mouths a Brush
The human mouth is home to an estimated 800 to 1,000 different kinds of bacteria. The warm and moist environment, along with hard tooth surfaces and soft tissues, prove to be optimal factors in boosting germ growth. Many of these bacteria are harmful and can form a film on teeth called "dental plaque," which causes cavities, gingivitis and eventually more severe kinds of gum disease.
3-day course of antibiotics may be sufficient following tonsillectomy
Children who receive a three-day course of antibiotics following tonsillectomy rather than a seven-day course appear to have no differences in pain or how quickly they return to a normal diet and activity level.
A Breath Mint Made from ... Coffee?
We all know why Starbucks puts boxes of breath mints close to the cash register. Your morning latte can create a startling aroma in your mouth, strong enough to startle your co-workers too.
Stomach ulcer bug causes bad breath
Bacteria that cause stomach ulcers and cancer could also be giving us bad breath, according to research published in the December issue of the Journal of Medical Microbiology.
Laser light may be able to detect diseases on the breath
A team of scientists at JILA, a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado (CU) at Boulder, has shown that by sampling a person's breath with laser light they can detect molecules in the breath that may be markers for diseases like asthma or cancer.
More Bad Breath Current Events and Bad Breath News Articles