Beating bad breath isn't exactly rocket science. In fact, between alcohol-free mouthwash, oxygenating toothpaste, mouth-wetting lozenges, specialty tongue scrapers and probiotics care products, you can beat back the advances of even the most intractable halitosis.
Probiotics are a particularly hot topic in oral health literature these days. That's because such specialty products are at the cutting edge of breath-freshening technology - which is a little ironic, considering how simple the mechanism behind probiotics really is.
Here's how it works, in a nutshell, along with summaries of some of the latest research into the science (and art) of probiotics care.
Essentially, oral probiotics are little more than a specialty breath freshener that introduces a harmless bacteria into your mouth. Your oral environment is already teeming with microbes, so you might be wondering why you'd want to add yet another.
The reason is pretty basic. Unlike the anaerobic bacteria that inhabit your palate, tongue and teeth, these new strains - called Lactobacillus salivarius K12 and M18 - don't cause bad breath. Quite the opposite, in fact: They emit a special class of protein called BLIS, or bacteriocin-like inhibitory substances, which actually discourages other microbes from growing.
Thus, the bacteria found in the leading breath freshening probiotics kits acts like a crop that happens to create its own weed killer.
When L. salivarius is introduced into your mouth, it quickly multiplies, releasing plenty of BLIS in the process. The odor-causing microorganisms that already live there quickly pack up and leave town. (Really, they die without reproducing.) The net result? A cleaner mouth and fresher breath.
When it comes to L. salivarius, scientists aren't being stingy with their praise. One study, published last year in the International Journal of Dental Clinics, called probiotics "the next savior in oral diseases."
Another paper, this one appearing in the Journal of the Indian Society of Periodontology, heaped similar accolades on this specialty breath freshener: "Probiotics provide an effective alternative way, which is economical and natural, to combat periodontal disease."
And several investigations, each appearing in the Journal of Breath Research, have concluded that probiotics care can reduce halitosis, improve the oral flora and even delay the development of periodontitis, a condition of advanced gum and tooth bed infection.
That's not bad for one tiny species of bacteria - not to mention, for a readily available, inexpensive specialty breath freshener!