What are Oral Probiotics and do they get rid of bad breath?
Did you know that your mouth is full of bacteria? If you are prone to having bad breath and even poor dental health your mouth probably contains higher levels of some of the less desirable bacteria like Streptococcus mutans or Porphyromonas gingivalis. Volatile Sulphur Compounds (VSCs) or waste from the millions of bacteria that inhabit your mouth are often the cause of bad breath. Indeed, for those of you who routinely brush your teeth and practice proper dental care yet still suffer from halitosis, this may be caused by an overgrowth of bacteria that produce smelly compounds in your mouth. While probiotics are traditionally known for enhancing gut flora and promoting a healthy digestive tract, new research supports the novel idea that probiotics may also promote a healthier oral cavity and reduce the amount of these stinky bacteria in your mouth. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria and they may just be the key to getting rid of bad breath.
- The Benefits of Oral Probiotics
- The Research
- How Oral Probiotics Work
- The Best Way to Take Oral Probiotics
- How Long Before You Will Notice Results
- Precautions and Side Effects
- The Best Oral Probiotics
The Benefits of Oral Probiotics
Oral probiotics (sometimes called oralbiotics) promote a healthy and fresh smelling mouth in numerous ways. Here are just some of the benefits:
- Inhibit plaque formation
- Reduces bleeding and maintains gum line
- Lowers and prevents inflammation
- Inhibit growth of harmful bacteria that cause bad breath and tooth
- Create more favorable conditions for a healthier environment in your mouth
- Immune support (resulting in reductions of throat and sinus infections)
- Freshens breath
- Whitens teeth
A study conducted by Burton et al, found that people who did not have bad breath often had the bacteria Streptococcus salivarius in their mouths. This favorable bacterium inhibits the amount of bad breath causing bacteria. The patients in the study who were previously diagnosed with halitosis (bad breath) were able to reduce the levels of VSCs in their mouths by using daily gum or lozenges that contained S. salivarius K12. An additional study (Kang et al) successfully reduced bad breath in their patients when they gargled twice a day with 15 mL of Weissella cibaria CMU for two minutes. Researchers found that chewing gum containing probiotics significantly reduced levels of halitosis after a 14 day period (Keller et al).
An abundant amount of smelly bacteria are found under the gum line of gingivitis sufferers, in periodontal pockets, and on the tonsils. If you suffer from bad breath causing ailments such as gingivitis, periodontal disease, or tonsil stones many studies support probiotics effectiveness at reducing bad breath caused by these conditions by repopulating your mouth with good bacteria. S. oralis and S. uberis were found beneficial because when they are present it usually signifies that the periodontal tissue is healthy (Chatterjee et al).
Oral probiotics have also been found to be beneficial for children. Probiotic rich milk was found to be effective in reducing the amount of cavities in children, especially between the ages of three and four. In the study conducted by Näse et al. the children were given milk containing the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG five days a week for seven months. This probiotic rich milk proved to be beneficial to their dental health compared to the children who drank milk without the probiotic.
How Oral Probiotics Work
As we previously mentioned, bad breath is often caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the oral cavity where bad bacteria produce VSCs. Some strains of probiotics produce bacteriocins or proteins that reduce these VSC producing bacteria. Probiotics reduce the amount of those odor causing bacteria by competing with them for nutrients, producing anti-microbial compounds and changing the pH or acidity levels in the mouth to more alkaline, creating a healthier environment in the mouth and inhibiting the growth of bacteria that cause plaque.
Probiotics also reduce the amount of the smelly bacteria by competing with them for sites on the surfaces in the mouth, sometimes called adhesion sites. They need to be able to attach and colonize the mouth surfaces or adhesion sites that are coated with saliva, as well as have the ability to thrive and grow in the oral environment. Adhesion is necessary for their success of crowding out bed bacteria and ultimately creating a healthier biofilm in your mouth. This is why it is important to use probiotic species that are known to be effective at adhering to surfaces in the oral cavity. We discuss the ideal oral probiotic strains below.
The Best Way to Take Oral Probiotics
Probiotics appear in many different types of products from tablets to chewing gum. There are many probiotic rich foods like yogurt, cheese, miso, tempeh, and fermented dairy products. Not all foods contain the correct strain of probiotic that are best at colonizing the oral cavity, so it's ideal to look for oral probiotics designed specifically to improve your dental health. It is best to follow manufacturer instructions to reap the most benefits from that specific product and remember that taking probiotics is not a substitute for brushing your teeth and practicing good oral care. Brushing your teeth before consuming the probiotic is encouraged but not necessary. Try not to eat or drink anything thirty minutes after consuming the probiotic to ensure that the good bacteria have the best chance to adhere to the surfaces in the mouth and begin colonizing.
Obtaining probiotics through a dissolving tablet, mints, gum, mouthwash, or toothpaste assures that the probiotic will have more contact with tissue surfaces in the mouth giving the good bacteria more chances to begin colonizing areas afflicted with stinky bacteria. If you purchase a probiotic in a capsule you can open the capsule, pour it in a small amount of water and gargle or swish around in your mouth before swallowing.
To treat bad breath resulting from tonsil stones it is recommended first to gargle with an antiseptic mouthwash like chlorahexidine followed by gargling with a probiotic mouthwash solution. This aids in getting rid of some of the bad bacteria that has colonized on the tonsils.
In order to have the best results with oral probiotics, it is important to lower the population of the anaerobic bacteria that cause bad breath first. In order to do this you need to consistently carry out proper oral health care measures as outlined in our article How To Get Rid of Bad Breath.
How Long Before You Will Notice Results
You should notice results after seven days, however some manufacturers maintain that there is an acclimation period of ten days. There isn't a lot of research on how long the benefits of probiotics will last or how often they should be used. If you aren't receiving any benefits after a month then that particular probiotic strain is unable to colonize in your mouth and you should discontinue use.
Precautions and Side Effects
While the safety of probiotics has not been adequately studied, they are for the most part generally regarded as safe, even for kids. Probiotics are naturally occurring in many foods and beneficial bacteria can be found everywhere. There are some reports of stomach pain and/or diarrhea after consuming probiotics and like any new product you consume there is always the chance of an allergic reaction being triggered, although reactions from probiotics are rare. Despite the safety of probiotics, for those who are immunocompromised or have short bowel syndrome, it is highly recommended that they not use probiotics. Always consult with your doctor before starting new supplements to ensure there is no risk of interference with any current medications you may be taking.
The FDA does not usually regulate supplements (unless the safety is in question) so it is important to purchase probiotic supplements from a reputable source to ensure that you are receiving the correct amount and strains of probiotics advertised. Products that feature the Consumer Lab logo (consumerlab.com) have been independently tested and guaranteed to meet safety requirements and strength and purity of the product.
The Best Oral Probiotics
S. salivarius (Blis K12® and Blis M18®)
Blis K12 reviews have been very positive and there is a lot of research to support its effectiveness. Blis K12 and Blis M18 are highly recommended probiotics for oral use. S. salivarius is effective at reducing halitosis because it eradicates the odor causing S. mutans. Not only does this probiotic excel at breaking up plaque, preventing loss of tooth enamel and preventing cavities but it also boosts the immune system protecting against infections in the ear, nose and throat. S. salivarius is often found in healthy mouths and is deficient in halitosis sufferers. S. salivarius usually colonizes the tongue, tonsils, and throat area so it is most helpful to consume the probiotic through mouthwash, gum, or tablets that dissolve in your mouth. S. salivarius is shelf stable and usually doesn't require refrigeration.
- Now Foods Oralbiotic Blis K12
- Jarrow Formulas Jarro-Dophilus Oral Probiotic Gum
- TheraBreath Multi Symptom Probiotics Home Treatment System
- Nature's Plus Adult's Dental Care Probiotic Lozenges
S. oralis KJ3, S. uberis KJ2, S. rattus JH145
This trio of probiotics work exceptionally well together at creating a healthy oral flora and preventing tooth decay. They reduce S. mutans and aid in maintaining tooth enamel. As an added benefit S. oralis KJ3 and S. uberis KJ2 produce a very small amount of hydrogen peroxide resulting in whiter teeth.
Heals bleeding gums, tooth decay, and halitosis.
Improves gingivitis symptoms.
- Chatterjee A, Bhattacharya H, and Kandwal A. Probiotics in periodontal health and disease. J Indian Soc Periodontol. 2011 Jan-Mar; 15(1): 23-28.
- Wescombe P, Hale J, Heng N, Tagg J . Developing Oral Probiotics From Streptococcus salivarius. Future Microbiol. 2012;7(12):1355-1371.
- Burton JP, Chilcott CN, Tagg J. The rationale and potential for the reduction of oral malodour using Streptococcus salivarius K 12 on oral malodour parameters. J Appl Microbiol. 2006;100:754-64.
- Keller MK, Bardow A, Jensdottir T, Lykkeaa J, Twetman S. Effect of chewing gums containing the probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri on oral malodour. Acta Odontologica Scandinavica, May 2012, Vol. 70, No. 3 : Pages 246-250
- Näse L, Hatakka K, Savilahti E, Saxelin M, Pönkä A, Poussa T, Korpela R, Meurman JH. Effect of long-term consumption of a probiotic bacterium, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, in milk on dental caries and caries risk in children. Caries Res. 2001 Nov-Dec;35(6):412-20.
Blis K12® and Blis M18® are a registered trademark and logo of BLIS Technologies, Ltd., New Zealand.