Probiotics and Oral Health
The reason we are told to brush twice a day, floss, use mouthwash and get regular dental checkups is because our gums and teeth are at risk for serious decay and damage due to bad bacteria. Oral diseases are on the rise, and the latest statistics show that 80 percent of Americans over 30 have gingivitis, tooth decay, cavities or periodontitis (destruction or loss of bone structure and teeth).
Streptococcus salivarius is the main “good-guy” bacteria in the mouth, and its job is to keep Streptococcus mutans (bad-guy) bacteria in check so that it does not colonize the surface of the teeth and break down enamel.
Beat Bad Bacteria
The good bacteria found in probiotics enter the body and work to overcrowd bad bacteria. There are places in your mouth and gut called adherence sites where bacteria are able to attach and begin to grow. If good bacteria reach those adherence sites first, there is less room for bad bacteria.
Probiotics for Oral Health
There are several companies producing a variety of probiotic products for oral health. I’m talking about more than just toothpaste and mouthwash (even though those are included). Not to mention, the line of probiotics available is expanding beyond human consumption…
Probiotic Gum – An example is TheraBreath Aktiv-K12 (www.therabreath.com), which not only provides fresh breath but actually obliterates those bad-odor bacteria.
Probiotic Mints –Try Profresh Mints (www.profreshmints.com) for fresh breath, white teeth and healthy gums and teeth. The mint includes a patented blend of three primary good bacteria: Streptococcus oralis KJ3, Streptococcus uberis KJ2 and Streptococcus rattus JH145. These good bacteria cause the bad guys to clump and stick to teeth, which makes them easy to brush, floss and rinse away. Also check out their line of kids’ chewable probiotics and probiotic powder for your pets’ oral health.
Probiotic Lozenges – A study in the Journal of Oral Microbiology found probiotic lozenges may reduce bad bacteria in the mouth if you have chronic periodontitis (most common gum disease). To decrease bleeding gums and build protection against plaque, check out GUM PerioBalance (www.periobalance.com).
Probiotic Toothpaste – While probiotic toothpaste is rather new in the U.S., it has been around for years in other countries. Two brands to look for are OMX Toothpaste and Designs for Health’s PerioBiotic Toothpaste.
Probiotic Mouthwash – In Sweden, a study determined using probiotic mouthwash actually reduced the amount of bad bacteria in your upper respiratory tract, ultimately reducing your chance of respiratory-related pneumonia. Check out Compete50 Probiotic Mouthwash or KForce Balance Rinse for starters.
Our mindsets are morphing from “all bacteria is bad” to understanding the differences between good and bad bacteria and how probiotics can actually work to protect us from illness and disease. Although the main focus of probiotic products is concentrated on the digestive tract and gastrointestinal health, other studies and products are surfacing, such as the oral health aids I just mentioned.
Probiotics are rapidly becoming more available and more prominent in the U.S. as our knowledge of their potential benefits increases. On a global scale, it is predicted that by 2014, the global probiotics market will be worth $32.6 billion.
**Please Note: Always consult your physician before adding a supplement — including probiotics — to your diet.
Be sure to check out the oral products you just read about, as the probiotics can only serve to beneficially supplement your health. To ease your way into using probiotics, I suggest starting with a probiotic mint such as Profresh Mints. Get the benefits of probiotics in a single daily mint (http://www.profreshmints.com/). Use coupon code “challa” to get 25% off.
Dr. Shekhar Challa is a board certified Gastroenterologist, Co-producer of probiotic video game Microwarriors: The Battle Within, and author of the new book Probiotics for Dummies. www.drchalla.com.