light shining on mouth

Oral Probiotics: Friends with Benefits

Seems not a day goes by that you don’t hear something about how the microbes in your gut are key to overall health. But while you’re deciding how to feed it the healthy bacteria it needs, you might want to shine a little light on your mouth.

light shining on mouth

Turns out that probiotics – those friendly bacteria and yeasts – may help you manage gum disease, as well.

According to a review of 50 randomized studies that looked at the most common types of disease-causing oral bacteria, probiotics significantly

  • Reduce bleeding on probing.
  • Reduce probing pocket depth.

This suggests that probiotic therapy – whether through diet or supplements – is effective in “managing gingivitis and periodontitis,” supporting the health of the soft tissues in your mouth.

Though there’s less evidence that probiotics can help control dental caries, the review results did show that they may reduce streptococcus mutans (S. mutans), one of the main bacteria involved in the tooth decay process. These bacteria break down sugars for energy, producing an acidic environment in the process.

An acidic mouth means demineralization and advancing decay.

But not all streptococcus strains are quite so damaging. In fact, researchers at the University of Florida have identified a new strain, A12, which flourishes in healthy mouths. A12 breaks down urea and arginine – two compounds found in the mouth – into ammonia. Since ammonia helps neutralize acid, researchers believe getting more A12 in the mouths of those prone to dental decay may inhibit the decay process.

The researchers believe their findings could eventually lead to the development of an A12 probiotic supplement that could prevent cavities in those of us not so probiotically diverse.

Until then, other oral probiotics are available – and new ones are appearing all the time.

Don’t want to rely on supplements? Get your “friends with benefits” through diet. Simply include foods rich in probiotic diversity on a daily basis. Eating foods such as yogurt, kefir, coconut kefir, cultured vegetables such as kimchi and sauerkraut, miso, kombucha, kvass, tempeh, and raw cheese, offer great and unique taste while helping boost both your oral and overall health.

Image by Nell Turner, via Flickr