Are There Dental Benefits to Probiotics?

Probiotics have made a lot of news lately, as more and more research points toward potential health benefits. In addition to boosting immune efficiency, probiotics have been shown to offer digestive benefits. At the same time, by promoting healthy bacteria in the mouth and gut, probiotics can help prevent cavities, ward off gum disease and help keep breath smelling fresh.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are living microorganisms that have healthy symbiotic relationships with our bodies. They live in certain dietary supplements, skin creams and foods such as yogurt. While people tend to regard bacteria and other microorganisms as germs that harm our bodies; countless microorganisms actually help out bodies function. For instance, many bacteria in our intestines are critical for digestion and immune function. Probiotics can also take up space and help prevent harmful bacteria from gaining a foothold in our bodies. 

How Probiotics Promote Oral Health

Probiotics have been shown to improve oral health in a number of ways including: 

Reducing plaque

Plaque is the most common cause of cavities and tooth decay. While brushing and flossing is the best way to eliminate plaque, research suggests an oral probiotic with Streptococcus A12 can also reduce buildup.

Lowering the risk of gum disease

A precursor to gum disease, gingivitis is a common problem among countless adults. The probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri has been shown to elbow out the microbes that cause gingivitis by cultivating a healthier balance of oral bacteria. Oral probiotics have also been shown to relieve some of the inflammation associated with gum disease. Some research indicates that taking supplements with Lactobacillus brevis can help reduce inflammation, while another study demonstrated that drinking probiotic milk can help reduce inflammation caused by periodontal disease.

Warding off thrush

Thrush is an oral infection caused by the Candida fungus. By taking up space in the mouth, oral probiotics can prevent the overgrowth of the fungus. 

Reduces bad breath

Many people use antibacterial mouthwash designed to kill bacteria that cause bad breath. Unfortunately, this can also kill off beneficial bacteria in the process. When this occurs, it creates more space for harmful bacteria to proliferate. Over time, you can actually end up with worse-smelling breath as bad bacteria repopulate every day. By taking oral probiotics, you can help restore good bacteria to help elbow out the unwanted bacteria that promote foul-smelling breath. 

Things to Consider

If you decide to take oral probiotic supplements, be sure to follow the directions and don’t take more than what is recommended in a 24-hour span. If you don’t want to take oral probiotic supplements, you can eat foods that are rich natural sources of probiotics such as kefir, yogurt, miso, aged cheeses and sauerkraut. 

While taking probiotics can provide benefits, it’s important to remember that the best way to maintain good oral health is to brush and floss every day. You should also schedule regular appointments with your dentist to check for minor issues before they develop into serious issues requiring expensive treatments.