Oral health is an important consideration in the overall wellness of the body. In addition to the aesthetic issues poor dental hygiene contributes to, oral health can sometimes have serious implications for the entire body. Oral disease has been associated with heart problems, digestive problems and even an increased risk of death. These complications can be avoided by maintaining proper hygiene as well as addressing any issues that arise promptly and effectively.
However, a germ-free mouth may not be the ultimate goal when it comes to oral health. Recent studies have indicated the inclusion of probiotics in the daily diet and health regimen can be extremely beneficial to the support of good oral health. It turns out, having the right kind of germs in the oral cavity can actually help maintain its health. Though nobody is quite overturning the general advice of brushing three times daily and flossing diligently, a question remains: How clean is too clean?
Dental Caries, or Cavities
One of the most common oral health issues that people encounter is dental caries, more commonly known as cavities. These areas of decay can be caused by acid produced by certain bacteria. One of the most destructive forms of oral bacteria is Streptococcus mutans, which easily attaches itself to teeth and produces acid that can dissolve through their protective layers. As with many kinds of bacteria, it ferments the sugar present in our food and produces lactic acid as a byproduct of its metabolism. An overabundance of lactic acid, particularly in the crevices between teeth, destroys the enamel. Eventually, these tiny areas of dissolution allow the acid access to the deeper layers of the tooth, which then causes a cavity and further decay.
Probiotic bacteria, such as those found in cultured dairy products and fermented foods, compete with resources and help to crowd out the more dangerous forms of bacteria. This was especially evident in children, who were shown to have a greatly reduced risk of cavities after only a few months of drinking milk supplemented with probiotics.
Even more common than cavities is halitosis, or bad breath. Though previously believed to be caused primarily in the digestive tract, it's now understood that nearly 90 percent of the causes of halitosis are actually found in the mouth. Again, harmful bacteria are to blame. As most of the bacteria in the mouth is located under the tongue and in between teeth, even with thorough brushing this bacteria can remain and release bad smelling gases as a result of their metabolism. While it's still important to brush and floss in order to reduce levels of these foul-smelling bacteria, taking probiotics has been shown to reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and also make them easier to remove through normal cleaning methods.
Periodontal disease affects the tissues of the mouth -- the gums, roots and sockets that actually support the teeth within the jaw, as well as the connective tissue that holds all of these elements together. This disease causes inflammation of these tissues and can lead to receding gums, infected sockets, painful abscessed teeth and eventual tooth loss.
One of the first things many patients notice in the early stages of periodontal disease is bleeding when brushing or flossing. In this particular case, the bacteria can form a biofilm over the teeth and gums which can prevent the bacteria from being removed by brushing and flossing. Application of certain probiotics directly to the affected area can control the growth of bacteria and reduce the inflammation and bleeding present.
In addition to cultured and fermented foods, chewable probiotics as well as probiotic drinks have been developed in order to help distribute symbiotic bacteria throughout the oral cavity. While traditional oral hygiene is here to stay, there might soon be a new step to add after brushing, flossing and rinsing with a mouthwash: probiotics.
Products you may like:
Garden of Life Probiotic Smile Vanilla Why you may like this product? These delicious mints can be
taken daily to improve oral
health without added sugar or
harsh chemicals. Infused with
three strains of probiotics,
they help prevent gum disease
while cleaning and whitening
Now Foods XyliWhite Toothpaste Gel Cinnafresh Why you may like this product? Now's toothpaste uses xylitol
as its main cleaning agent,
proven to protect teeth and
prevent plaque buildup. This
toothpaste can be used by both
children and adults and comes
in three great flavors.
Now Foods OralBiotic Why you may like this product? In a convenient lozenge, this
probiotic supplement helps put
helpful bacteria right where
you need it to improve oral
health. Taken daily, these
lozenges work with your other
oral hygiene products to
protect your entire mouth.
5 Reasons to Eat Greek Yogurt Greek yogurt is an easy-to-use ingredient that can help you make healthy swaps in the kitchen. Check out our five favorite reasons to keep it on hand.
Shop Smart: Comparing Top Probiotics Confused by all the probiotic supplements out there? Dr. Matt explains
what to look for and examines four of our best-selling probiotics to
help you choose wisely.
The Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics Probiotics have become a popular choice for health, recommended by
physicians from all backgrounds. What's less known is these probiotics
need prebiotics to help them carry out all those amazing benefits.
Learn more about this important combination.