Oral malodor develops mostly from the metabolic activities of indigenous bacterial populations within the oral cavity, but whether healthy or oral malodor-related patterns of the global bacterial composition exist remains unclear. In this study, the bacterial compositions in the saliva of 240 subjects complaining of oral malodor were divided into groups based on terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) profiles using hierarchical cluster analysis, and the patterns of the microbial community composition of those exhibiting higher and lower malodor were explored. Four types of bacterial community compositions were detected (clusters I, II, III, and IV). Two parameters for measuring oral malodor intensity (the concentration of volatile sulfur compounds in mouth air and the organoleptic score) were noticeably lower in cluster I than in the other clusters. Using multivariate analysis, the differences in the levels of oral malodor were significant after adjustment for potential confounding factors such as total bacterial count, mean periodontal pocket depth, and tongue coating score (P < 0.001). Among the four clusters with different proportions of Indigenous members, the T-RFLP profiles of cluster I were implicated as the bacterial populations with higher proportions of Streptococcus, Granulicatella, Rothia, and Treponema species than those of the other clusters. These results clearly correlate the global composition of indigenous bacterial populations with the severity of oral malodor.
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