Coffee Extract Fights Bad Breath

She's holding a warm cup o' Joe, so now's the time to approach for a favor, at least according to new research suggesting when we hold warm objects we are more generous. (Image credit:

An extract from coffee can inhibit the bacteria that lead to bad breath, scientists have discovered.

The extract prevents malodorous bacteria from making their presence felt — or smelt.

"Everybody thinks that coffee causes bad breath," said Tel Aviv University breath specialist Mel Rosenberg, "and it's often true, because coffee, which has a dehydrating effect in the mouth, becomes potent when mixed with milk, and can ferment into smelly substances."

But not always. Rosenberg and colleagues monitored the bacterial odor production of coffee in saliva.

"Contrary to our expectations, we found some components in coffee that actually inhibit bad breath," Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg would like to isolate the bacteria-inhibiting molecule in order to reap the biggest anti-bacterial benefits from coffee. "It's not the raw extract we will use," he says, "but an active material within it."

The discovery could be the foundation for an entirely new class of mouthwash, breath mints and gum, he said.

The findings were presented last month to members of the International Society for Breath Odor Research in Germany.

Live Science Staff
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