Over the years, research on ways to decrease dental problems and improve oral health care has gone in many directions: from fluoride and antibiotics, to the use of lasers and other new dental technologies. You may not realize it, but many problems such as tooth decay, bad breath, dry mouth and gum disease originate in the bacteria of the mouth. For that reason, researchers are investigating methods to alter the environment of the mouth in order to create a less hospitable place for undesirable bacteria to grow. One of the leading methods showing positive results with oral health is the use of oral probiotics.
What are Probiotics?
The word probiotics derives from Greek. ‘Pro’ means promoting, and ‘biotic’ means life. Probiotics are living microorganisms that inhabit the body and are often called ‘helpful bacteria’ because of their many benefits in the human body. Although now available in several forms, probiotics are naturally found in yeasts, yogurt and other fermented foods and beverages that contain live cultures. For oral health, TheraBreath® has created a new product called Multi Symptom Probiotics that is specifically designed to help fight bad breath germs in the mouth and throat by combing two stains of beneficial bacteria BLIS M18 and K12.
How do Probiotics Help Your Health?
The healthy microorganisms that make up probiotics help the body stay healthy in two ways.
- One important function is to maintain the health of the digestive tract.
A healthy balance of good and bad bacteria is needed in the digestive system so that it can keep the body in good running order by filtering out waste products, chemicals, toxins and harmful bacteria. The digestive tract also absorbs the nutrients taken in from food and water and aids in transporting them to cells to replenish the body. Good bacteria keep the digestive system in balance and help it perform these functions optimally.
Probiotics also are necessary to the functioning of the immune system. This may be their most important use, as an effectively functioning immune system will protect your body from a variety of infections, diseases and allergic reactions. Keeping good and bad bacteria in balance within the body benefits the immune system and the body as a whole.
Can Probiotics Improve Dental Health too?
In the past, probiotics have been successfully used to treat various gastrointestinal problems. Use of probiotics has now been expanded to include treating and preventing oral health problems that are bacteria related such as bad breath, gingivitis, periodontitis and tooth decay. Click here to learn more about Oral Care Probiotics.
Since probiotics reduce the presence of bad bacteria in other places in the body, researchers are investigating whether the same thing will happen in the mouth. Many studies of orally-administered probiotics have been completed and more are underway. Taken as a whole, the findings of these studies indicate probiotics can do for the mouth and dental health what they have done in the body for thousands of years: protect and improve health.
Researchers have found that, in the mouth, probiotics act to create a film that serves as a protective lining for oral tissues and wards off diseases associated with teeth and gums. Probiotics do this by occupying the space bad bacteria would use to grow in the absence of this film. The good bacteria compete with and displace the bad bacteria that cause and contribute to oral health problems. Using probiotics as nutritional dental therapy has moved out of the realm of only being an exciting and promising possibility and into use as a preventative treatment that can be part of daily dental hygiene along with brushing and flossing. Click here to read additional research by Dr. Katz on the use of Probiotics and Oral Care.
Can Probiotics Help with Bad Breath?
Probiotics are ideally suited to use as a therapy for halitosis or bad breath. Although food particles that become wedged between teeth, in tongue crevices and gum tissue are the major culprit in developing bad breath, the more fundamental issue is the bacteria that grow and feed on the actual debris. It is the volatile sulfur compound bacteria that release odor-causing gases, which are described as bad breath. Seen as a bacterial disorder, bad breath can be improved or eliminated by using probiotics to maintain a healthy bacterial balance in your mouth. Studies have been done that link the use of probiotic bacteria in the mouth with the reduction of foul smelling gases and the suppression of odor-producing bacteria.
Scientific research is continuing on the relationship between bad breath, bacteria and probiotics, with studies needed to separately test individual strains of probiotic bacteria to get a clearer idea of their health benefits. This is because the effects that are attributed to one strain of probiotic may not apply to others. Knowing the specific probiotic strains that help with bad breath is instrumental in providing dental therapies and products that contain the strains known to be effective.
To deliver the positive action strains of probiotics that reduce odor-producing bacteria in the mouth, lozenges and gums have been developed by TheraBreath®. These products include TheraBreath® Aktiv-K12 ProBiotic Chewing Gum and TheraBreath’s Multi Symptom Probiotics. Click here to view all probiotic products by TheraBreath®.
What about Probiotics and Other Dental Diseases?
Halitosis is an oral health issue that has been recently studied and identified as a target for the use of probiotics. Other oral health issues that benefit from the use of probiotics include periodontal diseases such as periodontitis and gingivitis. These are diseases in which a buildup of bacteria results in plaque and the eventual inflammation of gums and teeth. Studies have consistently shown that using probiotic bacteria can reduce both the bleeding and gum inflammation associated with periodontal disease.
The use of probiotics in the fight against tooth decay and dental cavities is another promising area of research. Tooth decay begins with bad bacteria in the mouth. Streptococcus mutans, in particular, is a very destructive bacteria strain that easily attaches to teeth and secretes acids that destroy tooth enamel. Researchers have consistently shown that probiotic bacteria introduced in the mouth can reduce the presence of S. mutans and the incidence of cavities.
Summary on Probiotics and Oral Health
From bad breath to cavities and periodontal disease, oral problems have their start with undesirable bacteria lodging in the mouth, on the tongue, in between teeth or on the gums. The introduction of good bacteria in the mouth, through the use of probiotics, reduces the harmful bacteria and restores balance to the mouth environment. Studies increasingly show a reduction in dental disease accompanying the use of oral care probiotics.