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Yogurt for Fresh Breath

February 7, 2009 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

Let’s be honest. Having bad breath stinks. It’s makes everyone uncomfortable. The person with bad breath suffers. The people who are exposed to the bad breath suffer. It’s just an annoying problem that leads to feelings of self consciousness for everyone involved.

We all know that taking good care of our teeth and gums can help control halitosis (chronic bad breath). Some of us even try additional means of beating this nuisance, such as brushing our tongues or using special mouthwashes, mints and chewing gum. All of those techniques can be helpful. But there’s also a common food that we can include in our diets that just may help solve our bad breath blues and improve overall oral health as well. That food is yogurt.

HalitosisGood Bacteria vs. Bad Bacteria

A study was presented at the International Association of Dental Research that examined the role that “live yogurt” could play on the presence of halitosis. Live yogurt refers to yogurt that contains live cultures. These are the healthy bacteria that provide many of the health benefits associated with yogurt consumption.

In this particular study, a group of 24 healthy individuals were asked to avoid eating any cultured foods for two weeks prior to the study. Foods such as natural cheese, kefir, pickled vegetables, sour cream and, of course, yogurt were to be avoided.

After the two weeks, researchers took samples of the volunteers’ saliva and from their “tongue coating”. They measured the bacterial quantities and the levels of volatile substances like hydrogen sulfide (which is a major player in the game of bad breath).

For a period of 6 weeks, the 24 participants ate about 3 ounces of unsweetened yogurt, two times a day. At the end of the 6 week trial, the researchers again tested for bacterial counts and took samples of the tongue coating. Here’s what they discovered:

  • There was approximately an 80% decrease in hydrogen sulfide and other odor promoting compounds in the mouths of the yogurt eaters.
  • There was also an improvement in symptoms of gum disease and a reduction in the amount of plaque.

This research is supported by another study that was published in February of 2009. But, there may be another reason for the breath-improving effect of live yogurt. In the past, it’s been noted that yogurt may improve our breath by supporting healthier digestion. Poor digestion is a lesser known factor in halitosis. So it could very well be that yogurt impacts halitosis in a multi-faceted way.

But Wait, There’s More!

In the above information, it appears that the probiotic (healthy bacteria) content of yogurt is largely responsible for the benefits. But there’s more to yogurt than just probiotics. For instance, yogurt also contains a group of proteins called Casein Phosphopeptides (CPPs). According to a group of Italian researchers, “CPPs contained in yogurt have an inhibitory effect on demineralization and promote remineralization of dental enamel.” In other words, yogurt may help to make teeth stronger! How cool is that?!

In the breath study, the live yogurt used contained two specific strains of healthy bacteria: Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilis. I have a container of organic, whole milk yogurt in my refrigerator. It contains both of these strains and others as well. If you are interested in trying to use yogurt to improve your breath, make sure the brand you choose contains these two helpers, is sugar-free and clearly states that it contains “live cultures” (living, healthy bacteria).

Be well!


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5 Comments to “Yogurt for Fresh Breath”

  1. Paul Fanton Says:

    Very useful!
    I will try it!
    Thank you!


  2. JP Says:

    Thank you, Paul.

    Please let us know how it works out.

    Be well!


  3. Paula Says:

    And the brand Bio-K is the best dairy culture in the market!
    I recommend it.

  4. anne h Says:

    I like the idea…
    I think I’ll try it, too!

  5. JP Says:

    Update: More support for supplemental probiotics …


    Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol. 2014 Apr;117(4):462-70. doi: 10.1016/j.oooo.2013.12.400. Epub 2013 Dec 20.

    Lactobacillus salivarius WB21–containing tablets for the treatment of oral malodor: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial.

    OBJECTIVE: This study evaluated the effect of probiotic intervention using lactobacilli on oral malodor.

    STUDY DESIGN: We conducted a 14-day, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized crossover trial of tablets containing Lactobacillus salivarius WB21 (2.0 × 10(9) colony-forming units per day) or placebo taken orally by patients with oral malodor.

    RESULTS: Organoleptic test scores significantly decreased in both the probiotic and placebo periods compared with the respective baseline scores (P < .001 and P = .002), and no difference was detected between periods. In contrast, the concentration of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) (P = .019) and the average probing pocket depth (P = .001) decreased significantly in the probiotic period compared with the placebo period. Bacterial quantitative analysis found significantly lower levels of ubiquitous bacteria (P = .003) and Fusobacterium nucleatum (P = .020) in the probiotic period.

    CONCLUSIONS: These results indicated that daily oral consumption of tablets containing probiotic lactobacilli could help to control oral malodor and malodor-related factors.

    Be well!


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