You’re not imagining it. Your gums are receding, you have more teeth showing than ever before, and your breath is less fresh. All these signs indicate you may have periodontal disease—a form of gum disease that occurs when plaque builds up below the gum line. Left untreated, this can lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems. But there’s hope!
Probiotics for oral health are becoming increasingly popular as a natural way to treat gum disease naturally with no side effects or harsh chemicals involved. In this blog post we will talk about how probiotics work in the body, why they are so effective at treating dental issues like periodontal disease, and what research says about their effectiveness in people who suffer from mild-moderate forms of gum disease.
How Probiotics Work
Probiotics are bacteria that are beneficial to the body. They help keep your digestive system healthy by preventing overgrowth of harmful bacteria and maintaining a balance between good and bad bacterial populations, which is critical for optimal health. While most people are aware of the digestive benefits of probiotics, not as many people know that they can also benefit the urinary tract, skin, lungs, and gums.
This is partially because there are numerous different types of probiotics that have a variety of benefits. One type of probiotic, known as Lactobacilli, has been identified as making up 1% of cultivable oral bacteria. Additionally, this probiotic has also been found to survive in saliva and adhere to the surface of the teeth and gums. There are different types of lactobacilli, such as:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus casei
- Lactobacillus fermentum
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus salivarious
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease occurs when plaque (a sticky film of bacteria) forms below the gum line, creating toxins that attack the gums and lead to inflammation, redness, swelling, tenderness, pain or soreness in your mouth. Eventually this can cause teeth to loosen and fall out as well as lead to the deterioration of the jawbone.
There are many reasons why probiotics might be effective at treating gum disease (and related oral health issues). Not only are they naturally found in the body, but research has shown that probiotics help inhibit plaque growth below the gum line—the same place where harmful bacteria proliferate.
On top of this, L. gasseri and L. fermentum have been identified as important players in preventing the growth of the bacteria responsible for gum disease. Researchers also noted that people with healthy gums had higher amounts of this probiotic, while people with chronic periodontitis had lower amounts.
Furthermore, probiotics like L. reuteri and L. brevis have been identified as a possible way to treat gum disease. One study used L. reuteri in chewing and L. brevis in lozenges to test whether or not the probiotics would help people with current cases of gum disease. At the end of the study, it was noted that people who were given probiotics in the form of chewing gum or lozenges had less plaque buildup and lower levels of inflammation than those who were not given probiotics.
If you want to improve your gum health, try using probiotics! Certain types of probiotics have been found to inhibit plaque growth below the gum line (where it’s needed), while other types have been identified as important players in treating active cases of gum disease. While you should still practice proper oral hygiene such as brushing, flossing, and teeth cleanings, probiotics may be another option to improve your gum health.
Dr. Alina Huang has been practicing dentistry in Manhattan for the last eight years. She was born in New York City, and raised in California where she received her Bachelor’s degree at UCLA, and her D.D.S. at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco. She then made her return to NYC where she completed her General Practice Residency at Montefiore Medical Center and has been working in private practice ever since. She continues her learning by attending courses to stay current with the latest advancements in dentistry and refine her skills.