Oral probiotics may have positive effect on bad breath
SUMMARY: Bad breath rarely seems to go away completely. Whether it originates in the mouth, nose or gut, oral odor is often caused by undesirable and even unhealthy bacteria. An increasing number of healthcare professionals are beginning to recommend oral probiotic supplements as a way to rid the body of the microorganisms that cause halitosis.
Posted: January 19, 2011
bad breath rarely seems to go away completely. Whether it originates in the mouth, nose or gut, oral odor is often caused by undesirable and even unhealthy bacteria. An increasing number of healthcare professionals are beginning to recommend oral probiotic supplements as a way to rid the body of the microorganisms that cause halitosis.
Essentially, oral probiotics are "good" bacteria that eliminate or replace "bad" bacteria in the body. The word "oral" simply refers to the fact that these bacteria may be ingested orally, where they immediately go to work, multiplying and edging out other strains that have negative health effects.
Ukrainian scientist and Nobelist Elie Metchnikoff discovered probiotics in 1907, according to the journal Communicating Current Research and Educational Topics and Trends in Applied Microbiology. In that year, the researcher suggested that the flora growing in the intestines and stomach might be modified by introducing new bacteria to take their place.
Metchnikoff also theorized that gut bacteria caused aging, leading him to coin the word "gerontology" to signify the study of longevity. While this idea has since been disproven, he had another that caught on - the notion that ingesting yogurt or milk might change the bacterial content of the gastrointestinal tract.
Today, medical investigators are looking into what else probiotics can do. On the cutting edge of this research is the idea that probiotics can improve bad breath. Multiple studies have indicated that oral health may be improved through the use of probiotics.
A 2001 study published in the European Journal of Pediatrics found that the application of a harmless strain of Escherichia coli - also known as E. coli - drastically improved the halitosis that came from gastric gases.
A more recent study in the journal Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology and Endodontology determined that Lactobacillus salivarius may address bad breath originating in the mouth. Japanese researchers gave participants with bad breath low doses of L. salivarus, and after a month their oral levels of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) had dropped significantly.
VSCs are largely responsible for the foul smell of halitosis.
Similar research published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology found that a week-long course of L. salivarus substantially reduced the measured amounts of VSCs in the mouth.
To fight bad breath caused by oral microorganisms, it may be practical to brush twice daily, rinse with a specialty breath freshener and take a probiotic supplement. A regimen like this may improve the make-up of your oral bacteria and reduce halitosis.