Gum disease is one of the most common problems seen by dentists. If you are suffering from this problem, it can be very difficult to manage your oral health. Fortunately, there are lots of different treatments available to help manage gum disease. One treatment option that has been gaining popularity lately is probiotics. These supplements contain good bacteria that help fight bad bacteria in the body and may help improve gum health. This blog post will explain what probiotics are and explore how probiotics may be able to help treat gum disease.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are composed of bacteria and yeasts found in foods or supplements that are taken to improve the overall health and balance of bacteria in the gut. Probiotics contain good bacteria, or “friendly” strains, which help fight bad, or disease-causing, bacteria in your body. In addition to balancing gut bacteria, probiotics also offer other health benefits for the urinary tract, skin, lungs, and mouth.
There are different types of probiotics. When it comes to your oral health, Lactobacilli have been named as possibly beneficial. Lactobacilli account for around 1% of cultivable oral bacteria. This form of bacteria has been found to both survive in the saliva and adhere to the surface of the teeth and gums.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus casei
- Lactobacillus fermentum
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus salivarious
The Role of Probiotics in Treating Gum Disease
Gum disease is the result of bacteria that build up in plaque on teeth and along the gum line. If left unchecked, these bacteria can damage the gums and bone around your teeth leading to pain, infection, bad breath, and tooth loss in the most severe of cases. The best way to fight this problem is by improving your oral hygiene so you are not allowing harmful bacteria to accumulate. In fact, treatments for gum disease revolve around reducing the amount of bacteria in the mouth, especially along the gum line.
Since probiotics have been known to decrease the amount of “bad” bacteria in the gut, researchers have started to evaluate whether this theory applies to the mouth as well. Some studies have found that people with chronic periodontitis have lower levels of L. gasseri and L. fermentum, than people with healthy gums. Other studies have shown L. gasseri and L. fermentum as being able to prevent growth of the bacteria responsible for gum disease.
While this could suggest that L. gasseri and L. fermentum can be used to treat gum disease, there is other research that has identified L. reuteri and L. brevis as being potentially effective in the treatment of gum disease. Both L. reuteri and L. brevis were used in people with gum disease for a specified amount of time. L. reuteri was used in chewing gum, while L. brevis was used in lozenges. At the end of the designated time period, it was noted that the amount of plaque had decreased and that there was an overall improvement in inflammation.
Although the aforementioned research has found probiotics to be potentially beneficial in the treatment of gum disease, researchers still note that more research is necessary to fully understand the relationship between probiotics and gum disease. It is also important to note that the use of probiotics should only be used as a supplemental treatment for gum disease and should never be used to replace brushing, flossing, or regular dental cleanings, as these are still the most effective ways to manage gum disease.
Research indicates that probiotics may be able to help treat gum disease. However, more research is needed to understand how these “good” strains of bacteria work and which strains are most beneficial in helping you maintain your oral health and treat gum disease. In the meantime, practicing good oral hygiene is still considered the best way to prevent and/or treat gum disease.
Dr. Sadati possesses extensive experience in all aspects of advanced restorative dentistry, with an emphasis in cosmetic and implant dentistry. He has attained Accredited Fellow status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most rigorous, demanding credentialing process in the world. He is the only AACD Accredited Fellow in South Florida.