Probiotics ‘The Good Bacteria’
What are probiotics?
Probiotics contain live beneficial bacteria that are the same or similar to bacteria that are in our bodies. Our bodies are full of bacteria, up to 30% of our weight. Research confirms that having too many “bad” bacteria and not enough “good” bacteria can cause all sorts of issues with our body’s system. This imbalance is the leading cause of many chronic systemic health issues, including gum disease.
Probiotics are often referred to as the ‘good’ or ‘helpful’ bacteria that can assist in restoring the balance of bacteria in our body, which in turn helps our bodies function in a healthy state.
Some foods contain natural probiotics, fermented and pickled foods such as sauerkraut,kimchi and kefir. As well as the supplements which have become popular.
How can probiotics help my dental health?
The mouth is the gateway to our body. It contains many billions of bacteria which we swallow, breathe in or they infiltrate our tissues, thus gaining access to our insides.
Probiotics are intimately linked with the health of our gut to enable proper digestion. Interestingly recent studies have shown that probiotics can help with our oral health as well.
Gum disease, bad breath and cavities are caused by an imbalance of bad bacteria in our mouth, so it makes sense that probiotics (good bacteria) can help restore that imbalance.
- Gum disease: Gum disease starts with harmful bacteria living around and on the teeth. The bacteria that cause gum disease can also contribute to heart disease and a long list of whole body ailments. More than 75% of Australians have some form of gum disease. Studies have shown a significant decrease of gum inflammation in participants that have taken probiotics over only a two week period compared to those participants who took a placebo.
- Oral Cancer: There is continuing research into how probiotics can reduce the risk of oral cancer. A study conducted on rats has shown that a bacterium called Lactobacillus salivarius reduced oral cancer in the rodent. More studies are being completed to confirm this research.
- Bad breath: Bad breath is caused by the bacteria that are in both your mouth and gut. Recent research has shown that patients who take a probiotic and have experienced bad breath had major reductions in the bacteria that causes it, compared to those who did not take the probiotic. The bacteria in the probiotic compete for nutrition with the bad bacteria, thereby reducing the amount of bad breath causing bacteria.
- Cavities: An investigation that was published in Caries Research found that a mouth rinse which contains good bacteria can significantly reduce the formation of plaque, therefore the risk of cavities developing.
How do probiotics work?
Very simple put, probiotics work by targeting the pathogens (infection producing microbes) that cause the most common oral health issues. Probiotics help prevent these pathogens from binding to your body’s tissue by using the good bacteria to boost your immune system. These good bacteria may also restrict or destroy the pathogens growth by producing an agent that makes it difficult for them to live.
Where can get I find Probiotics?
Probiotics can be found in specific foods or supplements:
Supplements: can come in pill, powder or liquid forms. Supplements can be more concentrated than probiotics you can get through food.
Food sources: enhanced milk, yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, soft cheeses, sourdough bread, sour pickles, fermented tea and cottage cheese.
Not all probiotics are the same or work in the same way, it is important to speak to your health care practitioner and research what probiotic best fits your needs.