What You Need to Know About Probiotics & Your Oral Health

Probiotic use is typically associated with digestive health and even as a “good bacteria” replacement after a round of antibiotics. But can probiotics also be beneficial for oral health? At our dental office in Boerne, we’ve been hearing about some research that may show a positive correlation between certain probiotics and healthier mouths. In this blog, we take a closer look at those studies to see if there is in fact an oral health benefit to taking probiotics.

What Are Probiotics?

We know that probiotics have been heavily talked about in recent years, but what are they, exactly? Basically, probiotics are live microorganisms, usually bacteria, that help support the digestive system. The term bacteria has typically always meant something negative, something that makes us sick. The truth is, there is both bad and good bacteria. Probiotics fall under the category of good bacteria, or friendly bacteria.

Different Probiotics Treat Different Things

Different probiotics tend to help with different things. Most commonly when we talk about probiotics, we’re referring to those that help in digestion. These are the ones that are found in yogurt and other foods that contain “active cultures.” But the probiotics researched in relation to oral health are different.

These probiotics are often referred to as oral probiotics. This term is not necessarily used to describe probiotics that are taken orally, but rather those that have been researched to see if they have impact on oral health. Following several studies, research suggests that there may be a positive correlation between specific types of probiotics and reducing the risk of gum disease, plaque, and bad breath.

A Closer Look at Bifidobacterium & Lactobacillus

Easier to explain than to say, the probiotic strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are the ones mainly associated with probiotic research in relation to oral health. These strains are naturally found both in the bodies and mouths of mammals, including humans. During several research studies involving Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, there has been evidence of a correlation between an increase in the probiotics and healthier mouths. While none of the limited amount of research available conclusively identifies the link, there have been cases where Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus have helped in the treatment of periodontal disease and halitosis, and has seemed to reduce the risk of cavities.

Again, there is still more research to be done on the relationship between probiotics and oral health. Because of this, we don’t recommend starting yourself on a probiotics regimen before discussing it with your medical team, including your dentist in Boerne.

Your Dental Cleaning is Much More Than Simply a Cleaning

Twice a year (at least) you come to our dental office in Boerne for your dental hygiene visit. During this appointment, we’re certainly focused on removing plaque, flossing diligently, and polishing your pearly whites. But what our patients may not know is that your bi-annual cleaning has a much bigger focus than simply getting your teeth clean.

Dental X-Rays Tell a More Detailed Story

Usually at one of your two appointments a year your dental team will take low-radiation, digital x-rays. These images help both your hygienist and dentist in Boerne get a much closer and detailed look into your oral health. Dental x-rays help catch any cavities that are not yet large enough for the naked eye to see. This is also when they’re the easiest to treat. The images even allow your dentist to see what’s going on below the gum line and into the jaw bone. X-rays can help diagnose an abscess or the beginning stages of bone deterioration that may affect dental health in the future.  

We Don’t Only Look at Teeth

As hygienists perform their examinations and remove plaque buildup from teeth, they’re also looking for any decay or cavities that should be treated sooner rather than later. But that’s not all. Hygienists and dentists are trained to look for signs of a larger problem that may affect the whole body.

There is a strong correlation between oral health and several systemic diseases such as heart disease, oral cancer, and diabetes. Oftentimes these diseases will first show signs in the mouth. At your bi-annual dental cleaning, your team is looking closely for any signs that may indicate the possibility of any of those problems. Like most health issues, the sooner these are diagnosed properly, the sooner treatment can begin and the more successful it tends to be.

It’s Ok to Ask Questions

We believe in educating our patients, so questions at your appointments are always welcome. Besides, the more knowledgeable you are, the healthier your mouth tends to be. These visits are also an ideal time to talk about any changes you’ve noticed in your oral health, any concerns you may have, or perhaps about cosmetic dentistry or restorative dentistry that you’ve been considering for awhile.  

At our Boerne dental office, we recommend that our patients see us at least twice a year for their dental cleanings to prevent any oral health problems from becoming more difficult to treat if left alone, and ideally to keep them from happening to begin with.

If it’s been more than six months since your last dental appointment, we encourage you to schedule an appointment today.