From time to time patients will ask us why their halitosis condition improved while
taking antibiotics for an infection. This phenomenon is not uncommon and there are
good reasons why it occurs. When taking an antibiotic it is important to understand
that the effect of the antibiotic will not be localized to the area where the infection
is. Antibiotics will travel throughout your entire body via your blood stream and
affect bacteria throughout your entire body. If you are taking an antibiotic that is
effectve against gram (-) anaerobic bacteria, which are the ones that produce
halitosis odors, then anywhere in the body where this type of bacteria exist will
experience a significant drop in numbers.
A good example is someone might have been taking an antibiotic for a sinus
infection and at the same time notice that their halitosis condition improved or even
went away while using the antibiotics. One of the common myths we hear is that a
bacteria called H. Pylori, which is found in the stomach and is responsible for stomach
ulcers, is the cause of halitosis. This couldn’t be further from the truth. What happens is
the individual is given antibiotics to eliminate the H. Pylori and heal the ulcer but at the
same time they also find that their halitosis is eliminated. The logic is that since the H. Pylori
were eliminated as well as their breath condition, then the H. Pylori bacteria must
have been the cause of their halitosis. In reality what was happening was the
antibiotic being used against the H. Pylori was also effective against the halitosis
causing bacteria, and while the H. Pylori were being killed off so were the gram (-)
anaerobic bacteria in their mouth that were producing their breath problem.
About the author: Dr. Anthony Dailley is a practicing general dentist in Berkeley California. He has been practicing since 1981 and graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in Cell & Molecular Biology, and obtained his dental degree from the Pacific School of Dentistry. Dr. Dailley also holds a fellowship position with the International Congress of Oral Implantologist (ICOI). Dr. Dailley has also been a founder in a biotech company called NovaBay Pharmaceuticals and was a member of their board of directors from 1997 -2014.