Dear Dr. Katz,
Devoted reader here! I've got a question for you, one that's got to do with bacteria. So, as I understand it, my mouth has, like, billions of little microbes crawling around in it, corroding my teeth and causing bad breath. Well, if that's so, then are there any bacteria that cause good breath, or that repair teeth? Maybe it's the lazy side of me, the side that forgets to floss, but I kind of hope there're little good-hearted microbes picking up my slack.
Oh and by the way, your oral health probiotics are the tops. I swear by them.
Thanks, and keep up the great work!
- Z.T., Houston, TX
Dear devoted reader,
You're not the first person to ask about this, but you've definitely framed it in a unique way: Are there any naturally occurring "good breath" bacteria? Well, as a matter of fact, there are. And it's funny that you mention oral health probiotics, because those are related.
In the human mouth, there are hundreds of different species of microbes. Some are good, but most aren't. These microorganisms tend to do more harm than good. For instance, plenty of different strains feed on the stray food particles that litter your mouth. These little guys emit volatile sulfur compounds as a byproduct of their digestions, and what you end up with is bad breath.
Other species are even worse, attacking your tooth enamel, inflaming your gums, causing canker sores, building tonsil stones or even working their way down your tooth roots to the bone bed.
These strains are numerous. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, researchers estimated that your mouth harbors 600 different bacterial species!
But this cootie cloud has a silver lining. The report noted that, in the mouths of volunteers with the best breath, one species stood out: Streptococcus salivarius. That's right - the same bacterium that we use in our specialty oral health probiotics also appeared naturally in the mouths of participants without halitosis - making this species a definite "good breath" microbe.
But keep a couple things in mind. First, while S. salivarius fights bad breath (by producing peptides that repel odor-causing bacteria), it can't repair your enamel.
And second, naturally occurring levels of S. salivarius aren't high enough to keep your mouth as clean as can be. For that, you'll need a boost from our specialty probiotics rinse - which you already seem to be on top of. Good job!