Due in part to the findings of recent studies, a growing number of dentists are beginning to talk about their interest in oral probiotics. These treatments involve the application of beneficial bacteria to the mouth that may help fight more harmful microbes.
Studies have shown that probiotics may reduce the risk of everything from gingivitis to bad breath. While it is still recommended that individuals check with their dentist before changing treatment strategies, adding probiotics to a dental care regimen may help reduce the risk of many oral health problems.
Most dental complications are caused by an imbalance of harmful bacteria. These microscopic organisms can cause bad breath and lead to infections that may contribute to gum disease and cavities. However, probiotics have been shown to combat these destructive bacteria. By limiting their growth, probiotics may help ward off many harmful conditions.
Probiotics were first shown to have benefits for the digestive tract. When taken orally, they have been proven to aid in digestion. However, fluids in the stomach that help to break down food may kill many of the microbes before they have a chance to reach a point in the system where they can be most beneficial.
Tod Bigelow, a Mississippi-based dentist, wrote in the Hattiesburg American that this is why more health professionals are looking toward applying probiotics to the oral cavity. They are given a chance to take hold and begin multiplying before the body's own mechanisms start destroying them.
"In the mouth live cultures can be used because there is no danger from the hydrochloric acid of the stomach and probiotics can be introduced at much higher concentration into the mouth than into the stomach with very little loss in numbers," he wrote. "Probiotics in the mouth can help a dentist control disease carrying pathogens."
He added that probiotics may also help to control pH levels in the mouth. This can inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and prevent them from contributing to plaque buildups, which often lead to gingivitis.
These potential benefits are leading to growth in the popularity of probiotics. Many dentists now recommend that their patients consider using products that are enriched with these beneficial bacteria. Rather than focusing on eliminating all microbes, oral health professionals have become more interested in ensuring that individuals have the correct balance of bacteria.