Can Dental Probiotics Help Treat Bad Breath & Gum Disease?

Can Dental Probiotics Help Treat Bad Breath & Gum Disease?
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Can Dental Probiotics Help Treat Bad Breath & Gum Disease?Clinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. What Are Probiotics?
  2. Probiotics & Bad Breath
  3. Probiotics & Gum Disease
  4. How Do I Get Probiotics?
  5. Who Is a Candidate?
  6. References

You brush and floss your teeth regularly. You visit your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups. And yet, your mouth is still full of bacteria.

The good news is that most of the bacteria in your mouth is normal—and harmless. But other bacteria can cause minor issues like bad breath and more serious ones such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Taking probiotics offers a potential boost for your dental health.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics, in simple terms, are healthy bacteria. Probiotic products, which are designed to improve overall gut health, exist in certain foods, including yogurt and sauerkraut.

Dental probiotics follow a similar principle but are manufactured to improve overall oral health and guard against problems like bad breath and gum disease.

While dental probiotics are not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), most brands use ingredients found in standard, fully approved probiotics, making them a safe choice for most consumers.

Probiotics and Bad Breath

Bacteria in your mouth is the leading cause of bad breath among people who don’t have an existing dental issue that needs to be treated, such as a cavity. While consistently brushing, flossing and rinsing can stave off minor issues, if you notice persistent bad breath, you should consider a bit more investigation.

Probiotics may be able to shift the balance of bacteria and clear out problematic bacteria, replacing it with a healthy version. When you reduce “bad” bacteria in your mouth, you may discover that your breath improves and that you don’t have to work as hard to keep poor breath at bay.

Some health experts and nutritionists believe that taking prebiotics along with probiotics help to maintain healthy bacteria.

Probiotics and Gum Disease

Traditional probiotics that promote gut health do so by adding “good” bacteria to balance out “bad” bacteria. Proponents of probiotics for dental health believe the same principle is at work when it comes to your mouth regarding dental probiotics.

By replacing the bad bacteria with good bacteria, it may be possible to prevent gum disease—or at least prevent it from getting worse. Researchers have not made a clear connection between probiotics and a reduced risk of gum disease, but early studies show promise that there is a link.

Probiotics may also be helpful for people who have reduced saliva flow. Saliva is an unheralded but important part of dental health. It coats teeth to help reduce a buildup of tartar and plaque, both of which can cause gum and teeth problems. Some medications (chemotherapy drugs especially) and treatments (radiation therapy) have as a side effect the lack of saliva production, as do certain medical conditions (diabetes, Alzheimer’s, yeast infection).

How Do I Get Probiotics?

Here are a few ways to get probiotics into your system:

  • Eat more fermented foods. These include sauerkraut, probiotic yogurt, tempeh, miso and kimchi, which is fermented cabbage, a mainstay in the Korean culture. These healthy foods are also easy in the supermarket and just as easy to implement into your diet.
  • Consume beverages with probiotics. Those include fermented tea drinks like kombucha and kefir.
  • Add a probiotic supplement to your daily routine. Probiotic supplements come in a variety of forms (capsules, powders and liquids), but they all need to live in your refrigerator. Special dental probiotics are also available, but you should talk to your dentist before trying one out on your own.

Are Probiotics Right for Everyone?

Probiotics are generally considered safe for consumption by most people. You’ll even find probiotics that are made for children on the market today. That doesn’t mean that you necessarily need them.

For many people, probiotics may do little for their overall health. This is especially true if you’re considering a probiotic supplement to improve your oral health.

When it comes to your dental health, the best thing you can do is visit your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups. At home, take proper care of your teeth by brushing and flossing regularly.

If you’re interested in probiotics for dental health, have a conversation with your dentist first. They can help guide you toward the right product or let you know that they may not be effective or necessary for you.

References

Oral Health: A Window to Your Overall Health. (June 2019). Mayo Clinic. Date fetched: July 29, 2021.

What are Probiotics and Prebiotics. (July 2020). Mayo Clinic. Date fetched: July 29, 2021.

FAQ’s About Probiotics. Probiotics.org. Date fetched: July 29, 2021.

How to Get More Probiotics. (August 2020). Harvard Health Publishing. Date fetched: July 29, 2021.

Probiotics. (March 2020). Cleveland Clinic. Date fetched: July 29, 2021.

Dry Mouth. (February 8, 2018). Mayo Clinic. Date fetched: August 1, 2021.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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