Bite into life with your pearly whites!
Humans are made up of more bacterial cells than cells specific to the body. Only a few hours after birth, the mouth is richly colonized1. Nearly a thousand bacterial species inhabit the oral cavity of healthy people, forming a balanced microbiota that prevents dental problems and gum disorders, among other things2. Periodontitis, an inflammatory disease of the mouth, affects many elderly people. This dental problem affects the quality of life and puts at risk of developing other diseases such as cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, respiratory infections, etc.3 Did you know that prevention starts in the first days of life?
Probiotics and oral health
The vast majority of probiotic research has focused on the digestive system. Since we find in the oral cavity abundant bacterial flora much like in the gastrointestinal system, it seemed only natural to explore this avenue. The efficiency of probiotics in improving gastrointestinal health has led to an interest in using these benefits to control oral and dental infections4. It is only very recently that, good bacteria have been evaluated from an oral health point of view, especially for their possible action on dental cavities, periodontitis, gingivitis, candidiasis infection and even halitosis, commonly referred to as bad breath5. The majority of cases are related to a microflora imbalance in the oral cavity6.
The resistance offered by probiotics is due to their colonization of the intestinal tract and their modulation of the immune system. These beneficial bacteria are expected to provide benefits to the host by modulating oral microbial flora4. It has been shown that the oral cavity of healthy patients contains an appreciable amount of Lactobacilli, in contrast to those with chronic periodontitis7.
Probiotics in all of this!
Clinical trials indicate that intestinal Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria may limit the growth of cavity-causing bacteria4. In a preschool study, probiotic use for only 15 days was consistent with decreased populations of unwanted bacteria in the oral cavity of the supplemented group8. The probiotic impact on oral health would include direct interaction with plaque, so good bacteria prevented the formation of the unwanted biofilm9. They would also help by producing antimicrobial substances that inhibit oral bacteria, including organic acids, hydrogen peroxide and bacteriocins9. Furthermore, it is well recognized that probiotics intervene indirectly on the immune system9. Finally, they would successfully inhibit the volatile sulfur compounds responsible for bad breath.
Dentistry is a distinct specialty and science is slow to take a closer look at the association between the digestive flora and the other floras of the body, more studies are needed to demonstrate the link between all these environments. Especially since the increased resistance to antibiotics and the desire for alternative medical solutions arouses curiosity about probiotics to address dental problems. In fact, a Swiss company has marketed a probiotic formulated to combat periodontal disease. When it comes to choosing your probiotic, look for multi-stem formulas, such as Probaclac products, to boost the beneficial effects of various species6. Obviously, no need to mention that it is essential to have impeccable dental hygiene to avoid toothache and emergency visits to the dentist!
Flash Quiz to see who the Experts are!
True or False? Prebiotics also have a beneficial effect on the prevention of oral problems.
True. They would facilitate the proliferation of good oral bacteria, acting in synergy with probiotics. Examples of prebiotics are inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides as found in all products of the Probaclac family.
True or False? All humans have the same oral bacterial profile.
False. Each individual has a unique oral microbial flora which depends on several factors including the mode of delivery, the presence of breastfeeding, age, eating habits and tobacco.
1Pujia AM, Costacurta M, Fortunato L, Merra G, Cascapera S et al. The probiotics in dentistry : a narrative review. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2017 ; 21(6) : 1405-1412.
2Terai T, Okumara T, Imai S, Nakao M, Yamaji K, Ito M, Nagata T et al. Screening of Probiotic Candidates in Human Oral Bacteria for the Prevention of Dental Disease. PLoS One. 2015 ; 10(6) : E0128657.
3Gulati M, Anand V, Jain N, Anand B, Bahuguna R, Govila V et al. Essentials of periodontal medicine in
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4Allaker RP et Ian Douglas CW. Non-conventional therapeutics for oral infections. Virulence. 2015 ; 6(3) : 196-207.
5Pradeep K, Kuttappa MA et Prasana KR. Probiotics and oral health : an update. SADJ. 2014 ; 69(1) : 20-24.
6Association Dentaire Canadienne [Website]. Consulted December 17th 2017. https://www.cda-adc.ca/jadc/vol-75/issue-8/585.pdf
7Koll-Klais P, Mändar R, Leibur E, Marcotte H, Hammarström L et Mikel-Saar M. Oral lactobacilli in chronic periodontitis and periodontal health : species composition and antimicrobial activity. Oral Microbiol Immunol. 2005 ; 20(6) : 354-361.
8Cortés-Dorantes N, Ruiz-Rodriguez M, Karakowsky-Kleiman L, Garrocho-Rangel JA, Sánchez-Vargas LO et Pozos-Guillén AJ. Eur J Paediatr Dent. 2015 ; 16(1) : 56-60.
9Meurman JH. Probiotics: do they have a role in oral medicine and dentistry? Eur J Oral Sci. 2005 ; 113 : 188-96.
10Devine DA et Marsh PD. Prospects for the development of probiotics and prebiotics for oral applications. J Oral Microbiol. 2009 ; 1 : 1.