Researchers at the University of Groningen have mapped the protein that allows halitosis-causing plaque to stick to teeth. Armed with such knowledge, dental professionals may soon develop products that prevent plaque, and thus cavities, from ever forming in your mouth. bad breath will still exist, but it’s a step forward.
A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences relates how the pair of scientists employed crystallography to determine the protein’s shape and function. The protein, called the glucansucrase enzyme, is created by the oral bacteria Lactobacillus reuteri. It breaks sucrose molecules down and adds them to long sugar chains that stick to teeth.
Over time, plaque buildup begins to facilitate tooth decay, which can lead to cavities, gum disease and tartar accumulation. All of these problems contribute to bad breath. By applying the findings to dental technology, experts may soon add glucansucrase inhibitors to toothpaste, effectively eliminating the possibility of cavities.
Halitosis, however, is here to stay. Bad breath can be cause by so many agents - dry mouth, food buildup, smoking, poor nutrition, savory foods - that eliminating one source will not guarantee the disappearance of oral odor.
Treating bad breath may be as simple as brushing, flossing, scraping your tongue and neutralizing odor molecules with a specialty breath freshening rinse or tablet.