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July 15, 2015  | by Dr. Benjamin Farrow

Probiotics and Your Oral Health

Several of our patients over the past year have asked about the probiotics and oral health. While there are few probiotics on the market proven to improve oral health, there have been several studies in the past 10 years that support the potential benefit of some novel approaches.


Probiotics and Cavity Prevention

Several studies have demonstrated that cavity causing bacteria and be reduced or replaced by healthy non-cavity causing bacteria.


A study from 2009 showed that the daily consumption of Bioactiv (a yogurt with L. rhamnosus) as a prolonged effect on an important cavity causing bacteria, S. mutans. Even 30 days after consumption, the counts were low enough to reduce the risk of developing new cavities.[1]


A study done on children during their early childhood reported a significant reduction in caries after 7 months of daily consumption of probiotic milk. The study concluded that probiotics may be a natural way to maintain tooth health, and that the daily intake of probioitics in may result in less dental decay for young children.[2]


Probiotics and Periodontal Health

Periodontal disease is a chronic, progressive bacterial condition that has both oral and systemic implications. Even though the periodontal disease is caused by a very specific group of toxic bacteria, the traditional approach to treatment aims to reduce the total number of the bacteria in areas that can affect gum health. This effective approach can be accomplished by the combination of professional and at-home cleanings. Additionally anti-bacterial mouth rinses play a supportive role.


Recent research has suggested that probiotic replacement therapy may potential in treatment and prevention of periodontal disease. There have been some interesting studies to treat periodontal disease in different ways and at different stages.


Multiple studies have demonstrated that some lactobacilli (L. brevis and L. reuteri) can inhibit the growth of bacteria known to cause periodontal disease.[3] Approaches to deliver these beneficial bacteria has been utilized both dairy products and lozenges with some success.


Another approach to treating periodontal disease is to introduce health bacteria to the specific areas that have been damaged by the disease. In 2007, a study showed that you could delay the time it takes for negative bacteria to re-infect an area if you introduced a mixture of beneficial bacteria into a damaged area after a deep cleaning.[4]


The Bottom Line

Our mouths are heavily colonized by bacteria: some are good and some are bad. What matters most in our risk for developing different oral diseases is which ones. In the past we didn’t always get to choose which bacteria we live with, but the use of probiotics may allow us to reduce our cavity risk an improve our gum health by replacing our harmful bacteria with more supportive organisms. While further study will be needed before will find proven probiotic products on our market shelves, this will be an interesting area to watch over the next year.


References:

1. Effect of LGG Yoghurt on Streptococcus Mutans Counts D. Glavina et al.:, Coll. Antropol. 36 (2012) 1: 129–132

2. Probiotics and oral health effects in children.Twetman S, Stecksén-Blicks C. Int J Paediatr Dent. 2008 Jan;18(1):3-10.

3. Decreased gum bleeding and reduced gingivitis by the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri. Krasse P, Carlsson B, Dahl C. Swed Dent J. 2006;30:55–60.

4. Probiotics and periodontal health. G GuptaJ Med Life. 2011 November 14; 4(4): 387–394.

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