Experts recommend probiotics, not antibiotics, for bad breath
SUMMARY: Probiotics pit microbes against one another, leaving your mouth odor-free and your breath fresh.
Posted: January 19, 2012
So you've got bad breath and bacteria's to blame? You could use an alcohol-based mouthwash and risk drying out your mouth and leaving your halitosis intact, or you can rinse with an alcohol-free specialty rinse, follow it with dose of probiotics and be odor-free.
If you've ever wondered how probiotics work and what separates them from antibiotics, you're not alone. Plenty of people are a little hazy on the mechanisms of these treatments and their connection to bad breath.
Simply put, antibiotics wipe out huge swaths of bacteria - good AND bad. Probiotics are actual bacteria.
Your mouth is absolutely bursting with microbes, billions and billions of them. Most of these little critters are relatively harmless, but several dozen strains of oral bacteria can do damage to your mouth. These species erode your enamel, infect your gums, attack the roots of your teeth and, of course, pump out the stink that your nose associates with bad breath.
So why don't we take antibiotics to kill these microorganisms once and for all? The problem is two-fold.
First, anything designed to kill oral bacteria - whether it's the alcohol in a cheap mouthwash or the antibiotics prescribed by a doctor - typically kills most microbes, not all. And once you stop using such a product, bacteria gradually repopulate your tissues. This means that antibiotics would not necessarily do the trick.
Second, and more importantly, while probiotics are safe and effective for halitosis, the indiscriminate use of antibiotics for any reason is extraordinarily dangerous!
The reason is pretty simple. Bacteria evolve really, really fast. The more a strain is exposed to a particular antibiotic, the more likely it is to develop a resistance to that drug. The consequences of such a turn of events can be serious. Consider the recent discovery, reported in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, of a strain of tuberculosis in India that is reportedly totally drug-resistant.
A study appearing in the journal Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology confirmed that using antibiotics to fight bad breath is a bad idea. It noted that prolonged use of two antibiotics (aureomytin and vancomycin) for this purpose could lead to hearing loss, kidney damage and thrush. Yikes.
By contrast, probiotics are safe, gentle and effective. These specialty products simply introduce "good" bacteria into your mouth. These microbes then crowd out those that cause halitosis, leaving you smelling minty and clean.