Taking probiotics for teeth and gum health might sound like a somewhat novel idea; however, evidence that has emerged over the past decade appears to show that the numerous health benefits of probiotics also extends to helping maintain good oral health.

In fact, studies conducted in just the past few years directly links the regular consumption of probiotics to reducing plaque and lowering the risk of developing gum disease.

A 2017 review of studies in the PubMed database found that probiotics improved oral health because of their ability to reduce oral pathogens—the bacteria that causes disease.

Another 2017 study, published in Current Oral Health Reports, found that probiotics help manage gum disease and cavities by restoring the balance of good bacteria in the mouth, which isn’t always achieved by traditional dental treatments.

Russian study

Now a new study from Russia has found that probiotic supplementation promoted a healthy oral microbiota to the point where plaque was decreased in the study subjects.

In the new study, two groups of test subjects were given either a daily probiotic or a placebo. While participating in the study, test subjects were asked to brush their teeth using a toothpaste without any antibacterial or antiplaque components twice a day. Subjects were required to have no systemic or chronic diseases; to have no more than five cavities; and to not be taking other supplements or antibiotics within a month prior to the study.

The primary trial period was four weeks. Then a two week period without supplements (or placebo) was introduced before the stability of the achieved results was assessed. After four weeks of intervention and two weeks of washout, researchers used the Turesky index—a method used by dentists to assess plaque—to measure progress. Other types of assessment were also used to analyze additional areas of oral health.

Researchers reported “a significant decrease in plaque accumulation” in the probiotic group at four and six weeks.

Different approaches on “oral probiotics”

It is worth noting that the Russian study utilized lozenges that were dissolved in the mouth for direct oral application. Some probiotic supplements are marketed as oral probiotics—in other words “applied” directly to teeth and gums via a gummy, lozenge or paste—as opposed to “swallowing” as is done with regular probiotic capsules.

This is not the method used in earlier studies.

As authors of the earlier studies noted, probiotics, by definition, are viable microorganisms, and when they are administered in adequate amounts, they provide many health benefits to the host by optimizing the gut.

This approach has been proven to provide many health benefits—by modulating the immune system and helping control inflammation.

For example, the brain benefits from a healthy gut through the gut-brain axis, not by a “direct application” of probiotics. In the same way, a healthy gut helps support skin health, energy, weight loss… and oral health.

The mouth is full of bacteria—good and bad

The mouth, or oral cavity, harbors the second largest microbiome in the human body after the gut. The microbial community hosts more than 700 species and is based on the interactions of microorganisms with the host environment as well as on their interaction with each other.

A healthy oral cavity is characterized by a dynamic balance between non-infectious (commensal) and opportunistic (cariogenic) microorganisms. The balance can be tipped by a high-carb diet, poor oral hygiene, many medications and systemic diseases.

Although research is ongoing in the sphere of probiotics for teeth and gum health, a few strains have already come to the forefront. According to the aforementioned 2017 PubMed review, Lactobacillus and Streptococcus probiotic strains appeared most effective in reducing plaque—the main cause of cavities and gum disease.

In addition, a 2010 study published in the European Journal of Dentistry found that Bifidobacterium helped prevent cavities and combat gum disease.

Though highlighting the three strains that appeared effective for oral health, researchers also said it was important to note that many probiotic supplements provide more than one strain of bacteria. This is beneficial for maximizing not only oral health, but overall health.

Optimal Health Systems recognized the benefits of supplementing with multiple-strain probiotics over two decades ago. Since that time it has become an industry leader in the development of quality probiotic blends.

The Optimal Health Systems product line includes both probiotic-only blends and probiotic-included products. Click links below to learn more.

Flora Blitz 100
Optimal Flora Plus
21-Day Blitz Challenge Package
Exposure Protection Pak
Natural Z Pak
Optimal Defense

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Sources: PubMed Central, Current Oral Health Reports, NutraIngredients.com (Russian study).