When it comes to the microbes of the mouth, there are good bacteria and bad bacteria. The majority are harmless and can assist in the digestion process. However, others are harmful and contribute to oral health problems like tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath.
A new study has found that smokers may be able to reduce the number of odor-causing microbes in their mouth simply by quitting their habit. Researchers writing for the Journal of Microbiology said that smoking creates a pathogen-friendly environment in which halitosis-causing bacteria can quickly multiply.
"Following smoking cessation, the subgingival microbiome is recolonized by a greater number of health-associated species and there are a significantly lower prevalence and abundance of putative periodontal pathogens," wrote lead researcher Suzanne Delima.
She added that dentists who are counseling their patients on ways to improve oral hygiene should include a discussion on smoking cessation. This may have a range of health benefits, including a reduction in bad breath.
Smokers who are in the process of kicking the habit may benefit from specialty breath freshening products to reduce oral bacteria while they quit.