You’ve heard how probiotics can help your gut health, but did you know they may also improve the health of your teeth and gums? Dental probiotics, just like the kind of probiotics used to boost digestive health, help balance the amount of good and bad bacteria in your mouth. In fact, oral probiotics may help with bad breath, gum disease and other dental health problems.
Do Dental Probiotics Work?
Probiotics are sold as dietary supplements and don’t require approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they are marketed. This means that the FDA has not reviewed or approved any health claims for probiotics. However, research suggests that probiotics can help your oral health. Here are some of the possible benefits of oral probiotics:
- Probiotics may fight plaque and cavities. A study found that a certain strain of healthy bacteria called A12 can help fight against cavity-causing bacteria Streptococcus mutans.
- Probiotics may help with bad breath. Research from the University of Connecticut shows that the best way to get rid of bad breath is to encourage the growth of good bacteria in the mouth. Specifically, the study found that Streptococcus salivarius strains K12 and M18 are the dental probiotics that can fight bad breath, gum disease, oral thrush and cavities.
- Probiotics can help gum disease. Another study showed that people who took supplements containing Lactobacillus brevis had less inflammation from gum disease. Another study published in the Swedish Dental Journal discovered that the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri can reduce gum bleeding in people with moderate to severe gingivitis.
Which Probiotic Strains Are Best for Oral Health?
Although more research on probiotics for teeth and gum health is needed, a few strains show promise for preventing dental health issues and improving mouth health. They include:
- Lactobacillus reuteri
- Steptococcus salivarius
Although some research shows that the probiotics you take for digestive health may also encourage healthy probiotic growth in your mouth, dental probiotics are usually available as a lozenge, milk or in a chewable form.
Are Probiotics Safe?
While probiotics are generally considered safe, you should always talk with your dentist about any supplements you might be taking. It’s important to note that you can lower your risk of cavities, bad breath and gum disease by practicing good oral hygiene. This includes brushing and flossing twice per day and visiting your dentist regularly for checkups.
Which Foods Have Probiotics?
The best food sources for probiotics are typically enriched or fermented foods. These foods have very little sugar and some, like cheese and yogurt, also have calcium, which helps build strong teeth and bones. Some good examples of probiotic-friendly foods include:
- Soft cheeses