Probiotics are good bacteria that are popular for their contributions to healthy digestion; however, scientists are starting to believe they contribute to dental health, too. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not endorsed the medical use of oral probiotics, many studies have shown that probiotics can help your dental health.
Potential benefits of oral probiotics
Prevent plaque occurrence
Our mouth contains different kinds of bacteria, and some of them are responsible for plaque. A 2016 study revealed that a bacteria strain known as A12 combats a cavity-causing bacterium known as Streptococcus mutans. S. mutans converts sugar into lactic acid to create an acidic environment in the mouth, which causes plaque and cavities. When the two bacteria were cultured together in a lab, the A12 bacteria inhibited the growth of S. mutans and plaque formation.
Combat bad breath
Multiple studies have checked the efficacy of probiotics against bad breath. The bacteria present in the mouth or gut usually cause bad breath. In a study, 23 people were given an antimicrobial mouthwash and then either a placebo or supplement containing the probiotic Streptococcus salivarius for three days. At the end of the study, 83 percent of the candidates given the probiotic witnessed a significant reduction in the number of odor-causing bacteria in their oral cavity.
Prevent oral cancer
A 2013 study discovered that a bacterium called Lactobacillus salivarius lowered oral cancer in rats. However, more studies are necessary to verify this effect.
Control the symptoms of gingivitis
A study conducted in 2006 postulated that oral probiotics alleviate the symptoms of gingivitis, also known as gum disease. The symptoms of gingivitis include inflamed, tender or sensitive gums. The scientists gave 59 people with gingivitis a supplement that had either a probiotic bacterium called Lactobacillus reuteri or a placebo. When the candidates returned two weeks later, the researchers discovered that the gingivitis symptoms improved among those who had the highest dose of probiotics. These people also had less plaque occurrence.
Lower oral inflammation
Research showed that probiotic bacteria can help reduce inflammation caused by gum diseases. A study conducted in 2007 discovered that people who used supplements containing the bacteria Lactobacillus brevis had lower inflammation. Another study discovered that daily intake of probiotic milk can reduce oral inflammation.
What you should know
Probiotics are typically safe. Nevertheless, you should never use them if your immune system is compromised. Pregnant women, seniors and children should avoid consuming high levels of oral probiotics without first consulting their physician. Probiotics are usually available in food or in a concentrated state as supplements, which may be in the form of pills, powders or mouthwashes. The best food sources of probiotics are enriched or fermented foods.
Ideally, you should stick with the recommended dosage of oral probiotics as directed by the manufacturers. Also, before using any supplement, ensure you consult your dentist or doctor to have the best chance of success and safety.
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