Probiotics are living microorganisms that we consider to be “friendly bacteria.” This means they perform a function that can actually help us, rather than hurt us, like the nasty bacteria that we want to avoid. Ingesting good bacteria has been the face of a recent campaign to improve gut health by eating fermented foods and dairy, but it’s important to highlight that probiotics can also improve mouth health as well. There has been an entire area of research designated to discovering just how much probiotics help reduce the frequency of cavities and the development of an effective, natural, and economically friendly way of fighting gum disease, plaque, and bad breath.
How Do Probiotics Work?
Probiotics are actually found in the body and in some foods and supplements. There are several types of probiotics, but the strain that is currently being researched is the most important in fighting tooth decay. Because high mouth acidity can most often lead to cavities, it’s important for the pH of the mouth to remain rather neutral. By using these good bacteria, probiotics can aid in fighting acidity. The main compounds in the mouth, urea, and arginine, break down into ammonia which can help neutralize pH levels, so scientists at the University of Florida went on to research whether one strain of bacteria was better than others at doing just that.
The Good Bacteria
After further research, Dr. Robert Bure and his colleagues were able to isolate the best bacteria for the job, called a12. These mutant-fighting bacteria can kill dangerous strains like Streptococcus mutans, which is a bad bacterium which can metabolize into sugar and lactic acid, causing an acidic pH in the mouth. This seems to be the best probiotic of the bunch and can potentially change the future of oral care by preventing cavities with simple and affordable supplementation.
Overall mouth health is a good representation of the health of the entire body. There are more than 700 different species of bacteria living in the human mouth at any point in time, both the good and the bad kind. Some of these bacteria can even lead to serious health concerns like strokes, diabetes, and other dangerous infections. It’s also been found that people aged 65 and under who suffer from periodontal disease have a 44% increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This is why the microbiome of the body is incredibly important, and sometimes it’s not just enough for people to brush their teeth once or twice a day. Considering the fact that the amount of bacteria in the human body outnumbers cells at a ratio of about 10:1, the human is 90% microbial! Learning about the bacteria that can help and harm the human body is more important than ever.
Gut and Mouth Health
Considering that the human body is 90% microbial, it’s essential to understand that the mouth is the gateway to the body’s immune system. Having a good balance of good and bad bacteria in the mouth can affect the rest of the body immensely. About 80% of the human immune system resides in the gut, along with the mouth and digestive tract, making it vital to maintaining a balance in the system. Humans swallow billions of bacteria a day, both helpful and harmful, making probiotics an important topic in dentistry.
Oral probiotics are full of beneficial bacteria that are specifically catering to the oral cavity instead of traveling down to the digestive tract with the trillions of other microbes waiting there. These oral probiotics have immense health benefits, especially in preventing dreaded cavities and bad breath. These bacteria work hard to crowd out harmful bacteria, keeping them at bay and warding off infection, inflammation, and other negative aspects of high mouth acidity.
Using and Maintaining Oral Probiotics
Now that research has proved the undeniable positive effect of probiotics, it’s important for people to learn how to maintain a good balance of bacteria in their mouths. This involves staying away from antibacterial products. For many years, people have misinformed on the use of these types of “healthy” disinfectants and washes. Just like the overuse of antibacterial hand serums, the overuse of antibacterial mouth products is running mouths dry of both good and bad bacteria, leaving too much room for possible infection and imbalance. The use of Triclosan, a common ingredient in toothpaste, can be one of the leading causes of declining good bacteria levels in the mouth.
Antibiotics are another crucial silent killer of good bacteria in both the mouth and gut. The overuse of these medications for every ailment has caused an epidemic of drug-resistant bad bacteria in North America. Luckily medical professionals have become aware of this issue and are abiding by new guidelines for prescribing such medications, preventing the unnecessary depletion of good bacteria in the body of their patients.
Taking oral probiotic supplements could greatly improve the oral health of people who may struggle with their bacterial levels or other issues that can come from bad oral genetics. By looking to chewable and potent oral probiotics that contain bacteria like BLIS K12, BLIS M18, L. reuteri, and L. paracasei. When taken as directed, they can repopulate the mouth with healthy and hardworking bacteria that can push out the harmful microbes negatively affecting the teeth and gums. The chewables are to be taken after brushing and flossing so they are most effective and not washed away by rinsing.
Speak with your dentist about taking oral probiotics and how they can help improve your oral health. They will be most knowledgeable about the best route for you to take to get a good balance of bacteria in your body. Taking these steps to improve your oral regimen can help your overall health and longevity.