How probiotics supports oral hygiene

The secret to a healthier smile: How probiotics supports oral hygiene

Regarding oral health, we often focus on brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups. In addition to these, maintaining a healthy gut is increasingly recognized as crucial for promoting good oral health. Probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that promote gut health, have been shown to exert positive effects on oral hygiene as well. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the fascinating connection between probiotics and oral health, discussing how these friendly bacteria support dental wellness and promote a brighter, healthier smile.

Understanding Oral Microbiome: Before delving into the role of probiotics in oral health, it's essential to understand the complex ecosystem of the oral microbiome. The mouth harbors a diverse community of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms, collectively known as the oral microbiome. While some of these microorganisms are beneficial and contribute to oral health, others can lead to dental plaque, cavities, gum disease, and bad breath if allowed to proliferate unchecked.

The Role of Probiotics in Oral Health: Probiotics are live microorganisms that confer health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. While they are most commonly associated with gut health, emerging research suggests that probiotics can also play a crucial role in supporting oral health.

Here's how probiotics support oral hygiene:

  1. Balancing Oral Microbiome

 

One of the primary benefits of probiotics for oral health is their ability to balance the oral microbiome. By introducing beneficial bacteria into the mouth, probiotics help crowd out harmful bacteria that contribute to dental plaque, cavities, and gum disease. This rebalancing of the oral microbiome creates a healthier environment for teeth and gums, reducing the risk of oral health issues. [1,2]

 

  1. Inhibiting Pathogenic Bacteria

 

Probiotics produce antimicrobial substances that inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the mouth. For example, certain strains of probiotics can produce hydrogen peroxide, which has antibacterial properties and can help kill harmful bacteria that contribute to dental plaque and cavities. By creating an inhospitable environment for pathogenic bacteria, probiotics help maintain oral hygiene and prevent oral health problems. [3]

  1. Reducing Dental Plaque and Cavities

 

Dental plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth and gums, leading to cavities and gum disease if not removed regularly. Studies have shown that probiotics can help reduce the formation of dental plaque and inhibit the growth of cavity-causing bacteria like Streptococcus mutans. By disrupting the formation of plaque and preventing the proliferation of harmful bacteria, probiotics contribute to cavity prevention and oral hygiene. [3]

 

  1. Supporting Gum Health

 

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common oral health condition characterized by inflammation and infection of the gums. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other serious health complications. Probiotics have been shown to support gum health by reducing inflammation, promoting tissue regeneration, and inhibiting the growth of periodontal pathogens. By promoting a healthy balance of bacteria in the mouth, probiotics help prevent gum disease and maintain gum health. [1]

 

  1. Prevent Bad Breath

 

Bad breath, or halitosis, can be caused by the proliferation of odor-producing bacteria in the mouth. Probiotics can help freshen breath by inhibiting the growth of these bacteria and promoting a healthier balance of oral microbiota. Additionally, probiotics can reduce the production of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), which are responsible for the unpleasant odor associated with bad breath. Probiotics are marketed for the treatment of both mouth- and gut-associated halitosis. By addressing the root cause of bad breath, probiotics provide a natural and effective solution for fresher breath. [3]

Types of Probiotics for Oral Health

Several strains of probiotics have been studied for their effects on oral health. Some of the most commonly researched probiotic strains include [4]:

 

  1. Lactobacillus acidophilus: This probiotic strain is known for its ability to inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria and promote oral health. [8]

  2. Lactobacillus reuteri: Studies have shown that L. reuteri can reduce dental plaque, inhibit the growth of cavity-causing bacteria, and support gum health.

  3. Streptococcus salivarius: S. salivarius is a naturally occurring bacterium found in the oral cavity that has been shown to inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria and support oral health.

  4. Bifidobacterium lactis: B. lactis is a probiotic strain that has been studied for its ability to reduce dental plaque, inhibit the growth of cavity-causing bacteria, and support gum health.

 

Incorporating Probiotics into Your Oral Hygiene Routine

Now that we understand the benefits of probiotics for oral health, let's discuss how to incorporate them into your daily oral hygiene routine. [5,6,7]

• Probiotic-rich Foods: Include probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso in your diet. These fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria that can help support oral health when consumed regularly.

• Probiotic Supplements: Consider taking a probiotic supplement specifically formulated for oral health. Look for supplements that contain strains like Lactobacillus reuteri and Streptococcus salivarius, which have been studied for their effects on oral hygiene.

• Probiotic Mouthwash: Some oral care products contain probiotics that can be swished around the mouth to promote a healthier balance of oral microbiota. Look for mouthwashes that contain beneficial probiotic strains and use them as directed for optimal results.

• Probiotic Chewing Gum: Chewing gum containing probiotics can help promote oral health by increasing saliva production, which helps wash away food particles and bacteria from the teeth and gums. Look for sugar-free gum containing beneficial probiotic strains and chew it after meals for fresher breath and improved oral hygiene.

• Regular Dental Care: Remember that probiotics are not a substitute for regular dental care. Continue to brush and floss your teeth daily, visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings, and follow their recommendations for maintaining optimal oral hygiene.

 

In conclusion, probiotics play a vital role in supporting oral health by promoting a balanced and resilient oral microbiome. By inhibiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria, reducing dental plaque and cavities, supporting gum health, and freshening breath, probiotics contribute to a healthier smile. Incorporating probiotic-rich foods, supplements, mouthwashes, and chewing gums into your oral hygiene routine can help optimize your dental wellness and promote long-term oral health. With probiotics as a valuable ally in your oral care arsenal, you can smile confidently knowing that you're taking proactive steps to support your oral hygiene and overall well-being.

 

References:

 

  1. Homayouni Rad A, Pourjafar H and Mirzakhani E (2023) A comprehensive review of the application of probiotics and postbiotics in oral health. Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol. 13:1120995.
  2. International Life Sciences Institute India, 2019. Status paper on probiotics in promoting healthy  microbiome for health and immunity. Available at: http://www.ilsi-india.org/PDF/Status_Paper_On_Role_of_Probiotics_In_Promoting_Healthy_Microbiome_For_Health_And_Immunity/Status_Paper_On_Role_of_Probiotics_In_Promoting_Healthy_Microbiome_For_Health_And_Immunity.pdf
  3. Haukioja A. Probiotics and oral health. Eur J Dent. 2010 Jul;4(3):348-55. PMID: 20613927; PMCID: PMC2897872.
  4. Amara, A. A., & Shibl, A. (2015). Role of Probiotics in health improvement, infection control and disease treatment and management. Saudi pharmaceutical journal : SPJ : the official publication of the Saudi Pharmaceutical Society, 23(2), 107-114. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsps.2013.07.001
  5. Nguyen, N. T., Wereley, S. T., & Shaegh, S. A. M. (2019). Fundamentals and applications of microfluidics. Artech house.
  6. Mahasneh SA, Mahasneh AM. Probiotics: A Promising Role in Dental Health. Dent J (Basel). 2017 Sep 27;5(4):26.
  7. Mohd Fuad, A.S., Amran, N.A., Nasruddin, N.S. et al. The Mechanisms of Probiotics, Prebiotics, Synbiotics, and Postbiotics in Oral Cancer Management. Probiotics & Antimicro. Prot. 15, 1298–1311 (2023). 
  8. Tahmourespour A, Kermanshahi RK. The effect of a probiotic strain (Lactobacillus acidophilus) on the plaque formation of oral Streptococci. Bosn J Basic Med Sci. 2011 Feb;11(1):37-40. doi: 10.17305/bjbms.2011.2621. PMID: 21342140; PMCID: PMC4362563.
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