It may seem like the stuff of science fiction but the influence of probiotics on oral health is a broadening field of research and may change the way we think about cavities, bad breath and gum disease.
Your Mouth Microbiota
Your mouth has a whole community of microbes that live there happily . These microbes are most commonly of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium groups and may occur in the gut as well, though some are particular to the mouth.
The good microbes protect us from infection, keeping our mouth healthy. But some microbes are implicated in infections like gum disease or in the formation of cavities. The “good guys” help us by competing for adhesion sites as well as nutrients . Good microbes are also involved in stimulating the immune system, similar to the way probiotics stimulate the immune system in the gut . Sometimes, these helpful microbes release antimicrobial compounds that create an unfavorable environment for the germs that cause gingivitis and cavities .
Is there evidence that probiotics influence the dental microbiota?
Some evidence shows that when probiotics are consumed where they come into contact with the mouth (not a pill) they may decrease the bad bacteria associated with cavities. The problem is, many of the current studies are of a short duration and so do not provide evidence that probiotics actually decrease cavities in the long term, even if they decrease the number of “bad microbes” in the mouth . One study used Lactobacillus paracasei (a “good guy” found in H2PRO™) candies to affect the population of Streptococcus mutans, a main culprit in cavities, with a positive result . This could be good news for consumers of H2PRO™’s powdered probiotic that can be added to food and drink!
Some studies have shown that probiotic strains may decrease inflammation and help improve some symptoms of gum disease . In fact, there is some difference between the oral microbiota of people with gum disease and those with healthy gums. One study showed improvement in gum disease symptoms when patients used a probiotic (Lactobacillus reuteri) chewing gum twice a day . Since the data is still limited, dental research looking forward must determine strain specific effects and long term effects of potential dental probiotics .
Bad breath, or halitosis, can be caused by a variety of factors, but an imbalance in the mouth microbiota is the most common cause . Indeed, some specific bacterial strains (Weissella cibaria, Stretptococcus salivarius) have been shown to inhibit the bad breath “bugs,” and one study indicated a 20% decrease in ‘biofilm’ (plaque) when patients used a mouthwash twice a day containing a probiotic from the Weisella genus [4,1]. Just like in the gut, permanent colonization of the mouth is unlikely by probiotic strains and so future treatments using probiotics to manage the dental microbiota are likely to require daily use.
At H2PRO™ we are looking forward to seeing how this area of research develops. As these complex interactions between our bodies and our microbes become clear we are confident that new information will inform lifestyle choices that will lead to increased prevention and better health.
One thing is for sure, when H2PRO™’s Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria probiotic species are added to water, other beverages or foods and ingested, they will support your healthy oral microbiome. So love your guts and love your mouth with H2PRO™!
Please tell us what you think! Have a story about taking probiotics daily, your oral health, or anything you read here? Tell us about it!
Buy one box containing 10 packets.
Order a Subscription for automatic monthly delivery of your box(es).