Probiotics may crowd out halitosis-causing bacteria
SUMMARY: When it comes to treating bad breath, it's almost always about the bacteria in your mouth. Most chronic halitosis comes not so much from smelly foods - though that's a common cause - as from microbes which feast on those foods. Getting rid of those microorganisms may require an oral care probiotic approach.
Posted: April 2, 2011
When it comes to treating bad breath, it's almost always about the bacteria in your mouth. Most chronic halitosis comes not so much from smelly foods - though that's a common cause - as from microbes which feast on those foods. Getting rid of those microorganisms may require an oral care probiotic approach.
There is more than one method of getting rid of the body's microbes. Alcohol, for instance, is often used to rinse the mouth. Or consider antibiotics, the compounds that kill bacteria when ingested or injected into the bloodstream. While these are a reliable way to eliminate microscopic invaders, they are not foolproof, and this can be a problem.
The Los Angeles Times recently reported that a strain of carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae has appeared in multiple cases across Southern California.
Carbapenem is a powerful antibiotic usually used as a last resort for infections caused by organisms like K. pneumoniae, according to the Boston Globe. The problem with antibiotics is that no such substance is guaranteed to kill every single harmful or invasive microbe in the body.
Say, as a thought experiment, that an antibiotic treatment kills 99.99 percent of a harmful microbe colony. Hand sanitizing gels often make this claim. That means that of every 10,000 bacteria, 9,999 will probably die, leaving one alive.
Its survival means that that one remaining bacterium is the strongest of the bunch. If it multiples, you have a new, much stronger colony of microbes. Since bacterial colonies - in the mouth, gut, blood or anywhere else - usually contain billions of microbes, an antibiotic wipe-out can leave far more than just one remaining bacterium.
Repeated antibiotic use means that many infections are eliminated, and on the whole health authorities agree that they have and will continue to save countless lives. But in the long run antibiotics also cause disease strains to get stronger faster.
It is a sort of microscopic arms race.
When it comes to bad breath, killing bacteria assuredly has its place. Alcohol-based mouthrinses often claim to kill more than 99 percent of odor-causing microorganisms, and, at least at first, they can leave breath smelling okay.
In the long run, though, these common rinses do little to keep the strongest odor-causing bacteria from coming right back. Probiotic treatments, on the other hand, use a different method entirely. Rather than trying to level the oral field with alcohol and kill the bacteria immediately, oral care probiotics gradually replace bad bacteria with those that don't cause bad breath.