As more research about probiotics and their connection to oral health comes out, it will be important for dentists to stay informed on the subject so they can better serve their patients.
What are probiotics?
The human body is made up of trillions of live microorganisms. Among these microorganisms, are things like bacteria and yeast. Probiotics are the bacteria and yeast which are good for your body. They come from the food we ingest and are primarily concentrated in the gut.
Probiotics also play a large role in our overall health and ability to fight infection. By eating foods which are rich in probiotics, you can increase the population of good bacteria and yeast in your body and help them thrive.
It’s important to note though, that each bacterial strain of probiotics is unique, and can have a different health impact on the body. Before choosing a probiotic supplement, make sure to do your research and speak to a doctor or pharmacist.
How do they work?
- When a person takes antibiotics, they kill both the good and bad bacteria in their body. Probiotics help replace those lost, good bacteria.
- In day-to-day cases when a person isn’t taking antibiotics, probiotics can help balance the good and bad bacteria in their body. When the bad bacteria are appropriately balanced by good bacteria, the human body is healthier and stronger.
What is the relation to oral health?
Some data suggested oral probiotics may be beneficial to reducing your risk of periodontal disease, carious lesions, and gingivitis, as well as supporting gum and tooth health. Overall, probiotics help promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the mouth.
Probiotics are not yet regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, various research studies and data suggest probiotics can benefit your oral health. Healthline summarized that research in an article and listed five possible benefits of oral probiotics:
- Prevent plaque
- Fight bad breath
- Prevent oral cancer
- Manage symptoms of gingivitis
- Decrease inflammation for gum disease
What kind of foods are rich with probiotics?
Foods which are rich in probiotics include but are not limited to the following list:
- Traditional buttermilk
- Sourdough bread
- Cottage Cheese
Some common themes you may have noticed in that list are fermented foods, dairy products, and vegetables. These are all great places to start when looking to increase the number of probiotics in your diet.
Probiotics through dietary supplements
Another good source of probiotics is through dietary supplements. Some things to keep in mind when looking for the right probiotic supplement:
- Different strains of probiotics can have different health effects on your body
- Each supplement should have around 10 billion Colony Forming Units (CFU) for it to be effective
- Supplements with an enteric coating can help protect probiotics from stomach acid so that the majority of them make it to your gut
To figure out which types of foods or probiotic supplements are right for you, consult a doctor or pharmacist.