Can Probiotics Help Your Patients Maintain a Healthier Oral Microbiome?

Probiotics can improve oral health as well as overall well-being. 

Dentists want to do everything they can to help keep their patients’ oral health in top shape. Aside from preventive care, recommending probiotics is a beneficial way to help maintain a well-balanced oral microbiome. When most people think of probiotics, they think of gut health and supplements, however, there are numerous oral health benefits as well. Learning about and educating patients on the use of probiotics to improve their oral health can make a major difference in their overall well-being.

What are some benefits of probiotics on our oral health? We know that pathogenic bacteria can cause infections and periodontal disease, both of which are highly ranked causes of tooth loss and bone loss. Probiotics have special properties that help create a biofilm that is able to act in defense to any pathogenic bacteria. Oral health can be improved and maintained when probiotics are introduced into your diet, making major differences for a patient.

1. Prevent bad breath.

Most cases of bad breath (halitosis) occur due to odor-causing bacteria that produce volatile sulfur compounds. While mouthwash is a convenient and popular way to combat bad breath, it also eliminates the good bacteria that are needed to maintain a healthy oral microbiome. Some of the ways that probiotics help fight those odor-releasing bacteria are by preventing harmful bacterial growth, killing harmful bacteria thanks to their antibacterial properties, and working with our immune system to create a balanced oral microbiome.

If your patient suffers from halitosis and there are no underlying causes, like poor oral hygiene, smoking habits, or medications, a probiotic may be a great way to help them overcome this embarrassing condition. 

2. Help prevent gum disease.

A probiotic like Lactobacillus reuteri has been shown to reduce gingivitis and gum bleeding. Since gingivitis is reversible, it is a great opportunity to help stop the condition before it becomes periodontitis, a more challenging and invasive condition. Probiotics are able to fight against plaque-forming microbes and prevent the breakdown of bone and tissue responsible for tooth loss. 

3. Help prevent teeth staining.

An imbalanced oral microbiota can cause dark staining on teeth, which can impact a person’s self esteem and oral health. A probiotic like Streptococcus salivarius M18 can lessen the risk of black stain formation and help fight those pesky stains that are not easily removable with a toothbrush and toothpaste. This is because probiotics can help fight those oral bacterial strains that are responsible for black tooth stains.

A patient in orthodontics can benefit tremendously from a probiotic as it can decrease gingival inflammation and plaque buildup, which contribute to white spots and staining under brackets. The Journal of the American Orthodontic Society also reports that orthodontic patients taking a probiotic lozenge have a 50% decreased risk of developing oral traumatic lesions. 

4. Fight plaque buildup.

Probiotics have known effects on the reduction of plaque buildup and lower the risk of periodontal disease. In fact, The Journal of American Orthodontic Society revealed that taking a probiotic (Prodentis lozenge) decreased gingival inflammation and pocket depths. This has much value for patients undergoing dental implants and orthodontics as it can help prevent peri-implantitis (inflammation around the implant) and decrease the risk of tooth decay and plaque accumulation in orthodontic patients with braces. 

A study by The American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics reported that the regular use of probiotics during orthodontic treatment reduced the quantity of Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus in saliva. Since these two bacterial strains are largely responsible for tooth decay, patients have a significantly reduced chance of developing cavities during orthodontic treatment by taking a probiotic. 

5. Prevent oral thrush.

A probiotic can help dental patients by preventing fungal colonization and avoiding conditions like thrush. While most dentists immediately prescribe Nystatin to treat fungal infections, they don’t dig deeper to discover the underlying cause, which is sometimes linked to imbalanced oral microflora. Probiotics can help fight fungal infections by releasing substances to stop the growth of species responsible for candida growth. Consider giving a probiotic with the species Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacterium bifid to help immunocompromised or elderly patients. 

Probiotics have many uses, but one benefit in dentistry is that they can help patients during fixed orthodontic treatment. The regular use of a probiotic can help fight bad breath and decrease the chances of developing tooth decay, gingivitis, and gum disease. It is a great adjunct to a patient’s routine care and can only strengthen their beautifully healthy and straight smile. 

To learn more about our popular orthodontics courses for pediatric and general dentists, check out one of the upcoming events below.

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