A quick look into dental and oral health literature will confirm that probiotics are being thoroughly investigated for their effect on halitosis and oral bacteria. While this fact can be encouraging, some individuals may not be aware of what oral care probiotics are, or what they do. Here is a basic rundown of the way probiotics fight bad breath, complete with some of the newest studies out there on the subject.
The idea of probiotics originated in the studies of Russian biologist Elie Metchnikoff, a scientists who received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his pioneering work on phagocytes, which are white blood cells that "eat" foreign cells in the human bloodstream.
Metchnikoff was a junior associate of Louis Pasteur, the legendary French microbiologist who pioneered the discussion of germ theory. Metchnikoff was fascinated with the idea that bacteria could be used to positive effect within the body, according to Michail and Sherman's Probiotics in Pediatric Medicine.
In the early 20th century, the Russian scientist proposed that the microorganisms found in dairy products might improve digestive health by replacing harmful microbes. While Metchnikoff had some theories that didn't pan out - such as the idea that harmful microorganisms cause aging - the idea of probiotics took off.
Probiotics have been used to improve the symptoms of a number of medical issues, including constipation, eczema and irritable bowel syndrome. Michail and Sherman report that one of the first notable people to treat the latter two conditions with probiotics was, oddly enough, Adolph Hitler.
Since that time, which was essentially the infancy of probiotic care, the practice has evolved in leaps and bounds. Today, it is being used to treat a widespread American condition - bad breath.
A 2010 review in the International Journal of Contemporary Dentistry recently noted studies have shown that oral care probiotics are effective in reducing halitosis caused by a number of common oral flora. These include Candida albicans - the microbe responsible for thrush - Streptococcus salivarius and Escherichia coli, also known as E. coli.
The review added that probiotic strains used to combat oral odor include, but are not limited to, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactococcus lactis and Propionibacterium freundereichii.
Another study published in the journal Periodontology 2000 specified that probiotics may be able to limit the extent of the mouth's biofilm, which is the coral reef-like web of bacteria that grows and interlocks on the surface of the tongue.
By using certain microbe colony-modifying products, like Blis Probiotics, individuals with bad breath may be able to stem the tide of odor-causing oral bacteria.