To test whether mebendazole, an antiparasitic drug, would affect recovery from halitosis.
We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial between April 1999 and September 2001.
A referral medical center.
One hundred sixty-two children aged 5 to 16 years whose parents complained about their chronic bad breath.
Children were randomly assigned to receive mebendazole (n = 82) or placebo (n = 80).
Main Outcome Measure
Parents whose children had halitosis were evaluated for halitosis at 2 months of treatment by questionnaire. The microbiologist investigated the stool samples of children for parasitosis at the beginning of the trial and also at the end of the trial in children who were treated with mebendazole.
Among those children who had evidence of parasites in stool samples at the beginning of the trial, 18 of 28 who were treated with mebendazole recovered from halitosis, compared with 2 of 24 who received placebo (relative risk [RR] for recovery, 7.7; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.0-29.9). Among those who did not have stool parasites, 14 of 52 improved with mebendazole, compared with 10 of 48 taking placebo (RR, 1.3; 95% CI, 0.6-2.6). Mebendazole intake made a significant difference whether or not the children had parasites (P = .002).
Parasitosis should be considered as a possible cause of halitosis in the pediatric patient population. Mebendazole therapy seems to offer benefit to those children with parasites as a potential cause of their halitosis.