Environmental and genetic contributions to indicators of oral malodor in twins

Walter A. Bretz, Aaron Biesbrock, Patricia M. Corby, Andrea L. Corby, Walter G. Bretz, Jennifer Wessel, Nicholas J. Schork

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study aimed to: (1) determine concordance rates of self-reported and subjectively determined indicators of oral malodor in twins; (2) determine the relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors to levels of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) in intraoral and exhaled breath. Fifty-one twin pairs participated in the study. Measurements of VSCs were obtained by a halimeter. The presence of tongue coatings was determined and twins filled out a 32-item questionnaire on oral malodor indicators independently of one another. Estimates of heritability (h2) for halimeter measurements were computed by SOLAR. The concordance rates for the presence of tongue coating among identical and fraternal twins were 67% and 11%, respectively. In the 10 most informative items, 70% exhibited higher concordance rates for identical than for fraternal twins. Of particular interest were the differences in concordance rates for dry mouth, sinus infection and unusual sweating. The h2 for intra-oral breath was 0.28 ± 0.17 (NS), whereas the h2 for exhaled breath was 0.50 ± 0.20 (p =.0207). The concordance rates of tongue coatings and malodor indicators were higher in identical twins than in fraternal twins. Intraoral breath VSC values were primarily attributable to environmental factors, whereas exhaled breath VSC values were partially explained by genetic factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-572
Number of pages5
JournalTwin Research and Human Genetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011


  • heritability
  • malodor
  • twins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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    Bretz, W. A., Biesbrock, A., Corby, P. M., Corby, A. L., Bretz, W. G., Wessel, J., & Schork, N. J. (2011). Environmental and genetic contributions to indicators of oral malodor in twins. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 14(6), 568-572. https://doi.org/10.1375/twin.14.6.568