What are Dental Probiotics?

Dr. Kyle Hornby

This Kitchener Dentist has been hearing lots of great things about the continued development of dental probiotics so I thought I'd put it all together in an article, today. A probiotic is a food or dietary supplement containing live microorganisms that improve overall health.

The mouth is a home to millions of bacteria, some beneficial and some harmful. Harmful bacteria contribute to dental caries or "cavities" and gum disease. Beneficial oral bacteria can limit inflammation while keeping the number of harmful bacteria relatively low.

So, what dental probiotics are available and how can they improve our oral health while solving some of our dental problems? The answers might pleasantly surprise you!

Why Dental Probiotics?

Most things things enter your body through the mouth. Your mouth is a complex ecosystem that includes a multitude of different forms of bacteria. When we eat and drink, we ingest some of these bacteria and they enter our digestive tract and gut. Additionally, oral bacteria can enter our circulatory system and move around our body through ulcers and tears in our gums and cheek mucosa. Bacteria can also access our blood supply through inflamed and bleeding gums.

Generally, the healthier and in balance our bacterial profile is inside the mouth, the healthier we will be.

Do Dental Probiotics Work?

Given that the mouth is home to so many different populations of bacteria that reach a different balance for each individual, there is certainly opportunity to tweak that balance in favour of healthier outcomes. For instance, introducing certain probiotics can help to change the overall ecosystem to make conditions more unfavourable to harmful bacteria. Thus, dental probiotics can have a protective effect.

So, specifically what can dental probiotics achieve?

Can Dental Probiotics reduce plaque buildup?

Yes! The plaque that accumulates on your teeth and gums is a complex collection of food particles, oral proteins, dissolved carbohydrates and predominantly harmful bacteria. Therefore, reducing the action and viability of these harmful bacteria can reduce overall plaque volume or amount.

Ultimately, this means that regular consumption of dental probiotics can reduce your plaque levels. Because plaque has a role in developing cavities, gingivitis and gum disease, reducing its overall accumulation can only be a good thing!

(Note: Lower plaque levels means less tartar buildup and faster, less expensive dental cleanings. If that's not an exciting though, I don't know what is!)

Do Dental Probiotics help reduce bad breath?

Bad breath (or "Halitosis") can result from metabolic disorders, particular diets and respiratory tract infections. However, the most common cause is a bacterial imbalance in the mouth. Certain types of bacteria break down proteins in food and saliva to form sulphur-containing compounds that produce unpleasant odours.

Some research has shown that pills containing a certain strain of bacteria can inhibit other bacterial populations that increase the sulphur-containing compounds that lead to halitosis. In doing so, these probiotic pills can drastically reduce halitosis.

Can Dental Probiotics reduce tooth decay?

Several research papers have shown that certain probiotics can decrease the concentration of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth. If you can utilize probiotics to reduce tooth decay, you can eliminate the need for dental fillings. There are several types of cavity-causing bacteria and scientists continue to identify probiotics that disrupt their function. The key is that beneficial probiotics must be able to "get into" the plaque and biofilm on teeth where bad bacteria live and multiply.

Research continues to produce probiotic options that can be packaged into milk, gums, and lozenges.

Are Dental Probiotics able to cure Gum Disease?

There is also research showing that certain friendly bacteria in dental probiotics can have a positive effect in patients suffering from Periodontitis or "Gum Disease". These probiotics can help to reduce the rate of gum and bone destruction in these patients. However, Dental Probiotics alone will be only part of a solution. Typically, control of oral contaminants and pro-inflammatory bacteria must be achieved with excellent oral home care as well as frequent monitoring by your Dentist in Kitchener.

One research paper suggests that individuals who consume yogurt regularly tend to have less loss of gum attachment and recession than a control population. So, while we pursue novel health foods and probiotics, some of our daily foods can have a positive effect on the health of our teeth and gums!

Where can I get Dental Probiotics?

Dental probiotics kitchener

You can find dental probiotics at most major pharmacies as well as in the Health Food Section of your local grocery store. Look at which bacterial strains are in the probiotics available. You will also want to look at CFU, or "colony-forming units" which measures the probiotic count. If you need help locating dental probiotics, ask your Kitchener Pharmacist for help.

What are the best Dental Probiotics?

Look for probiotics with a high CFU which indicates a higher count of the good stuff you're looking for. Particular strains that have great benefits include S. salivarius K12 & S. salivarius M18.

Summary

For a long-time conventional medicine viewed the mouth as being isolated from the rest of the body. Because of this, many patients don't think that problems in their mouth will effect their overall health. They've been let down because Dentists and Doctors did not teach them about an integrated view for their own health.

As I mentioned above, most things enter our bodies as something we eat or drink. When we swallow foods, we ingest millions of bacteria at a time. These bacteria can proliferate and colonize our gastrointestinal tract, gut and intestines. We're basically big tubes - quite a bit of what enters the top of the tube makes its way to lower sections. This means we need to be better equipped with information to optimize conditions in the mouth. Adjusting what goes on in the mouth provides us with a wonderful opportunity to improve health throughout the rest of the body.

Thanks for reading today. I hope the article has given you more clarity on the beneficial effects of dental probiotics. I recommend that you ask your Kitchener-Waterloo Family Dentist about all benefits of these probiotics and for recommendations about which ones will serve you best!

By Dr. Kyle Hornby, Dentist in Kitchener

Our Kitchener Dental Office is conveniently located in Downtown Kitchener and we are a short drive away for families in Waterloo, Breslau & St. Jacobs. Our central location means we truly offer family dentistry near you!

This article is meant to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Accordingly, always seek the advice of your Dentist or other healthcare providers regarding a dental condition or treatment.

Enjoy a fresh start.
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