About half or more of the people that you know are likely taking some type of probiotic supplement. They are used for everything from digestive health to aiding your immune system. Another reason people take probiotics is to boost their dental health. In the US among those age 30 and older, an estimated 46 percent have at least some symptoms of gum disease. While good dental hygiene is critical for gum health, it is not the only way to reduce your risk of gum issues.
Dental probiotics have been shown to be beneficial for both the health of your gums and your teeth. The key is to know which strains to look for how to take them and what benefits you could reap with proper use. Combined with regular dental visits and good oral hygiene, the right probiotics could help to enhance your oral health.
What Are Dental Probiotics?
Probiotics that are taken orally can help to support your oral health. They are a type of living organism and the supplements are generally a combination of various yeasts and bacteria. Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are the most common probiotic groups and there are multiple strains in each of these.
There are microorganism colonies living in your mouth and the majority of these bacteria are not bad. The ones that are classified as probiotics are actually beneficial to your dental health and help to protect you against the bad bacteria that put you at risk for gum disease and tooth decay.
When taken orally, the probiotics in the supplements are directly delivered to your mouth, allowing for easy colonization of your oral biofilms. There are some toothpastes on the market that contain probiotics. However, most dental probiotics come in the form of a chewable tablet, mouth rinse, lozenge or drink.
Gut vs. Oral Probiotics
It is important to distinguish between the two to get the most dental benefits since method of delivery and the organisms present are different between these two types of probiotics. When you get a probiotic for gut health, the strains in the supplement are those that are native to this area of your body. In most cases, this type also comes in capsule form so that it can resist the digestive system’s acidic pH.
The oral type is meant for your dental health and it contains the probiotic strains that your oral microbiome needs for optimal health. When you are choosing a dental probiotic, you want to choose a supplement that has the following strains:
• Lactobacillus reuteri
• Streptococcus salivarious K12
• Lactobacillus paracasei
• Lactobacillus salivarius
• Streptococcus salivarius M18
• Lactobacillus sakei
What Does the Research Say About Dental Probiotics?
There has been a lot of research regarding dental probiotics for a wide variety of oral health concerns. Exploring the research gives you a better understanding of how much they can help.
Cavities occur as a result of plaque, which contains bacteria. According to the research, dental probiotics can reduce your risk of cavities in the following ways:
• Enhancing your mouth’s immunity
• Stopping bad bacteria from sticking to your teeth
• Changing the quality of your saliva to allow for better enamel mineralization
• Fighting some of the bacteria that causes cavities due to the production of antibacterial compounds
• Stopping cavity growth via altering the mouth’s pH
Both periodontitis and gingivitis can devastate your mouth and even lead to other health conditions in your body, such as heart disease. When you use dental probiotics, they can help your gum health in the following ways:
• Less plaque below your gumline
• Reduced gingival index
• Less bleeding of your gums
• Smaller pocket depth to reduce your risk of periodontitis
Oral thrush is characterized by candida fungus growing in the oral cavity in abundance. Lactobacillus, a species of probiotics, has been shown to stop this fungus from being able to encourage the growth of oral biofilm. When this is stopped, the fungus cannot flourish and result in thrush.
The growth of bad bacteria in the mouth can cause bad breath. Because of this, using dental probiotics are a preventative measure since they help to stop bad bacteria from taking over. In many cases, a probiotic mouthwash is sufficient for bad breath.
There have been three separate studies that look at probiotics and how they can affect your breath. They have been shown to reduce the volatile sulphur compounds that are responsible.
If someone has recurrent tonsillitis, dental probiotics may be able to help. A clinical trial in 2020 showed that with 30 days of continued use of a dental probiotic, the participants experienced significant relief of the symptoms associated with recurrent tonsillitis.
Harmful bacteria growth in the mouth may cause oral cancer. Correcting this growth via the use of dental probiotics could reduce your risk of oral cancer as a result. Two reviews showed that the following probiotic strains could be the most beneficial:
• L. rhamnosus GG
• Acetobacter syzigii
• L. plantarum
• L. salivarious REN
Who Could Benefit from Dental Probiotics?
Oral probiotics contain good bacteria that help to replace the biofilms that bad bacteria create. When these better biofilms are in place, gum and tooth health benefit. They also work to stop the bad bacteria from being able to get to and cause harm to your gum tissue and enamel.
There are many ways that oral probiotics can benefit your dental health, including aiding with the following:
• Oral thrush
• Respiratory infections
• Oral cancer
• Gum disease
• Bad breath
What Are the Potential Side Effects of Dental Probiotics?
Research shows that dental probiotics are very safe. While probiotics for your gut may cause bloating and upset stomach, oral probiotics do not appear to cause the same side effects. If you have the following conditions that affect your immunity, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor before you take probiotics:
• Inflammatory bowel disease
Before you start taking dental probiotics, talk to your dentist. They can help you to choose the best ones and ensure that you are getting the proper dosage. Just make sure that you are taking them properly so that you get the most benefit from them.