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Probiotics are good bacteria that aid the body in maintaining a healthy balance of microflora. These good bacteria are known to enhance the immune system and help fight disease and infection in the digestive tract. Recent studies have shown that the benefits of these living microoragnisms extend far beyond improving the health of the gut. Promising research has been conducted in the use of probiotics for oral health. Scientists have recently discovered they are a natural and effective way of reducing the severity of periodontal disease, dental caries, and halitosis.

Most oral health issues are the result of infection producing microbes known as pathogens. Probiotics can be used to prevent these pathogens from causing an infection as a first line of defense. They enhance the immune response while producing antimicrobial compounds, making it harder for the pathogens to live and thrive. The good bacteria hinder them from binding to the body’s tissues while reducing the amount of inflammation and tissue destruction. Scientists estimate there are more than 800 types of bacteria in the oral cavity, most of which are healthy and do not cause disease.

Probiotics can be present in dietary supplements, probiotic-infused chewing gum and lozenges, suppositories, dairy products like yogurt, non-dairy sources like fermented vegetables, and many other foods that contain beneficial microbes. The most commonly used probiotic bacterial strains are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, which are part of the normal human microbiota. For those who currently have periodontal disease, research shows the probiotic strain Lactobacillus casei shirota and Lactobacillus brens exhibit beneficial anti-inflammatory effects. Probiotic infused milk and other dairy products have demonstrated a reduction in dental caries. Mouth rinse, lozenge, chewing gum, and tablets infused with probiotics have been show to aid patients with oral malodor, known as halitosis.

Although probiotics have many beneficial effects associated with the oral cavity and body, they are not for everyone. Immunocompromised patients should avoid probiotics because they could potentially have negative side effects. An alternative treatment would be oral biofilm management, such as good home care and regular hygiene appointments. Xylitol products could also be a great alternative.

Most of the scientific trials that were researched included a small number of participants and were conducted over a brief timeframe. Although this research has not been carried out over a long period of time, probiotics show promise in their ability to reduce the severity of these oral conditions.

To learn more and to schedule a visit with our dentist in Hagerstown, Maryland, contact Potomac Dental Centre today. Dr. Everett Eklund and our team are thrilled to serve you and your smile!