Periodontal disease and healthy gums

Note: Periodontal disease can be quite complex, this is a simple explanation of healthy gums and the importance that they play in your health and wellness. So please forgive us for avoiding hefty medical terms and complex biochemistry. Our intention is to simply communicate the vital importance of healthy gums.

Healthy gums are pretty amazing… and they look good too!

Think of everything that your teeth and gums have to withstand. Chewing forces alone can average 70 pounds per square inch–unless you are a night grinder as this condition can exert force up to TEN TIMES that amount!

And these forces can be up-and-down or side-to-side, and while this can all get quite technical the simple facts are that your gums have their work cut out for them to keep your teeth stable and capable of doing their job.

Anyone that has lost teeth or suffered from gum disease can attest to the fact that life is not so much fun when you can’t chew, or sometimes even talk right.

But your gums do quite a bit more than just hold teeth in place.

Your gums may look like “pinkish putty” but they actually are composed of lots and lots of fibers that connect in many directions to the bone. This allows for a marvelous process that:

  • Keeps your teeth stably in place, but still enough “wiggle room” to absorb and deal with the force and stress of living
  • Detect force levels by communicating “stretch factors” to the brain, so the brain can tell how much force is being applied
  • Play a very dynamic role in mineral absorption and the process of actively replacing your bone tissue cells
  • Provide immune support by buffering against the invasion of “bad bacteria” into the bone and the body

Covering these strands or fibers is an outer layer with a fancy name of “gingival epithelium” (gingiva is just a Latin name for gums!). This is a really important layer as it provides the protection against the bacteria rich environment in your mouth and the inner gum tissue, the bone tissue and your body.

Think of it as a wall that keeps out the unwanted food particles and bacteria. It protects you and it is a major player in your immune system and as it fails you become exposed to unhealthy bacteria, infections and inflammation.

periodontal disease, gum disease, gingivitis, inflamed gums, bleeding gums, gum disease treatmentNow you might begin to understand why unhealthy gums, particularly as they begin to “pull away” from your teeth and form pockets, can pose such a health hazard. In fact, gum disease has been linked to heart disease, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic inflammation and other health problems.

As gums fail this then accelerates the erosion of your teeth, weakens the bone structure in your jaw, aids the spreading of infection into your blood stream and body, and imperils your immune system.

We think we have made our point, healthy gums are vital and important to overall health and wellness.

What should healthy gums look like?

Generally they are a pink-tone with some variations from person to person. Gums that are red or white indicate unhealthy conditions. They should be tight to the tooth and have a nice rounded, snug fit around the tooth (not a deep arch or a loose fit). They should feel firm and not puffy or inflamed. There should be the most minimal of indentations around the tooth and certainly not any pockets.

When it comes to maintaining healthy gums and fighting periodontal disease there is a senior rule to follow:

Keep unhealthy bacteria UNDER CONTROL.

There are many ways to do this but the most basic and effective are:

  • Routine, consistent basic dental hygiene such as: brushing, flossing and, in some cases, tongue scraping
  • Regular dental cleanings, with deep cleanings recommended for those that already have gingivitis or periodontal disease
  • The use of oral probiotics to seed the mouth with beneficial bacteria that will control the growth of “bad bacteria”

Understanding the basic mechanics of unhealthy gums and gum disease should make it clear why ROUTINE and CONSISTENT dental hygiene regimens are so important. The bacteria that contributes to most gum disease grows consistently and so it is important that their growth is consistently disturbed. This is why DAILY flossing is so important–it disrupts the growth cycle of the bacteria as well as cleans out food sources for those bacteria.

One other important factor is maintaining the saliva flow in your mouth.

Saliva is not just spit or liquid. It is a powerful agent that buffers the acid produced by bacteria. An acidic environment in your mouth does not just erode your teeth. Acid actually promotes the growth of bad bacteria, so saliva will fight this by stabilizing the pH levels. Plus saliva is critically important in the remineralization process of your teeth, it provides a steady source of minerals that continually feed and rebuild the enamel on your teeth. So a dry mouth is a bad thing!

Dry mouth can be caused by certain medications, so if this is the case then discuss alternatives with your doctor. Chewing promotes saliva flow and many people find relief by using healthy chewing gum choices.

Additionally, our oral probiotic blend has been shown to increase saliva flow. This is the result of certain key probiotics we have included that stimulate healthy saliva flow.

We certainly hope that this has helped you to better understand why healthy gums are so important to you. We also hope it has inspired you to seek great oral health for you and for your family.

Diabetes and Periodontitis, a Two-way Street

Oral health, diabetes and periodontitis

diabetes, gum disease, doctor, oral health, periodontitis

GUM DISEASE CONCEPT Medicine doctor hand working

Diabetes is a major concern for tens of millions of Americans. While most of us are familiar with the insulin and metabolic complications associated with diabetes there are far fewer that are aware of the increased prevalence of gum disease, tooth decay and other oral health problems amongst diabetics.

What is even more surprising is the increased evidence from medical studies showing that there is a “two-way street” relationship between diabetes and oral health. In other words, evidence suggests that:

  • Diabetics are more likely to suffer from serious gum disease, periodontitis and
  • Periodontitis decreases the body’s ability to control blood glucose, thus gum disease is a factor in aiding the progression and development of diabetes

This was covered in a clinical study that researched the link between treating periodontal disease with SRP (scaling and root planing, or a deep cleaning) and the effect upon glycemic control in diabetic patients. Clinical study on periodontal disease and diabetes, glucose management

The following is taken from that study:

“Periodontal disease and diabetes mellitus (DM) share a two-way relationship. It can be hypothesized that successful management of periodontal infection in diabetes will lead not only to reduction of local signs and symptoms of the disease, but also to better control of glucose metabolism… The result indicates that SRP is effective in improving metabolic control in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus patients”

Another respected site,, also supports these findings with their statement that:

“Emerging research also suggests that the relationship between serious gum disease and diabetes is two-way. Not only are diabetics more susceptible to serious gum disease, but serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes. Research suggests that diabetics are at higher risk for oral health problems, such as gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease) and periodontitis (serious gum disease). Diabetics are at an increased risk for serious gum disease because they are generally more susceptible to bacterial infection, and have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums.”

“If your blood glucose levels are poorly controlled, you are more likely to develop serious gum disease and lose more teeth than non-diabetics. Like all infections, serious gum disease may be a factor in causing blood sugar to rise and may make diabetes harder to control.”

The relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease is well established and it is a recognized fact that diabetic patients are more likely to experience gum disease and tooth loss. It is an increasingly recognized fact that those with gum disease have an increased risk of developing glucose intolerance issues that contribute to the progression of diabetes.

What is also recognized is that these increased risks and prevalence factors are far more likely to be found in uncontrolled cases. Simply put in those that do not take adequate care of their mouth and gums or their glucose management.

As this earlier study showed, effective periodontal treatments, in this study a SRP–Scaling and Root Planing–was used, demonstrated the added benefit for diabetic patients of an improved blood glucose and diabetic condition.

However, as other clinical studies show, the SRP treatment is limited in that the “bad bacteria” rapidly grows back and the condition returns. These treatments can be greatly enhanced in efficiency by the addition of using oral probiotics to support a healthy bacterial culture in your mouth and gums. (See our earlier blog post on this subject: Lactobacillus reuteri and chronic periodontitis).

As those that suffer from it know, diabetes is a serious disease with multiple complications that severely impact one’s quality of life. Taking effective measures to control diabetes can provide strong positive benefits and extend one’s life. One such effective measure is to address the state of your oral health. Deep cleanings, periodontal treatments, ongoing hygiene and the regular use of oral probiotics are all effective in promoting superior oral health and combating periodontal disease.

The advanced oral probiotic blend from Great Oral Health provides a broad spectrum of beneficial bacteria along with key ingredients designed to help remineralize your teeth. If you, or someone you care for, is diabetic then improving the level of oral health is a key step in effective management of that disease.

Oral Probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri and chronic periodontitis

A Clinical Study Shows Significant Periodontal Results from Oral Probiotic Lactobacillus Reuteri

periodontal disease, image of healthy gums, unhealthy gums, oral probioticsThere are multiple clinical studies on the use of oral probiotics in the treatment of periodontal disease. This 2013 study focused on the use of the oral probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri together with the standard and commonplace treatment of “Scaling and Root Planing” or as you probably know it, a deep cleaning. SRP is how your dentist or periodontist would first tackle heavy plaque build-up, deep gum pocket depths and gingivitis.

The question that the clinical researchers had was “Would the oral probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri be effective as an adjunct to a SRP treatment?”

This clinical test was the first to measure the benefit of combining a deep cleaning (SRP) with oral probiotics. A primary purpose of doing a deep cleaning (SRP) is to disrupt the growth of the pathological bacteria that is largely responsible for periodontal disease. The problem is that although SRP does a great job of disrupting the bacterial growth the stuff grows right back! So, the researchers were studying to see if a longer term and beneficial effect could be obtained by using oral probiotics as an adjunct to SRP.

The clinical study results were published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology in 2013 and conducted by several universities, two in Belgium and one in Turkey.

They tested two groups of chronic periodontitis patients, both groups received the SRP treatment, then one group took oral probiotics and the other took a placebo.

The patients were measured and monitored for such things as: probing pocket depth (how deep your gum pockets are), the gingival recession (the gingiva are basically your gums), the bleeding on probing and also measured for bacteria that were present in the mouths of each patient.

The patients were measured throughout the 12-week clinical test.

Results of Using Oral Probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri along with a Deep Cleaning

While both groups saw improvement over the baseline (starting point measurements) the results showed significant improvement in the group that took oral probiotics over the group that took a placebo.

The group that took oral probiotics saw a significant reduction in pocket depth (meaning that the gums were attaching) and less bleeding on probing.

Using Oral Probiotics to Reduce the Future Risk of Periodontitis Disease Progression

Most interesting was the assessment done on all patients at the end of the trial to determine their future risk of “disease progression” and in the high risk group the numbers were 67% for the non-oral probiotics patients versus only 27% in the group that took oral probiotics. In the low risk group it was even more impressive as 60% of the oral probiotic users fell into the low risk group for future disease progression versus only a mere 13% for the non-users!

Moral of the story is that combining SRP with the use of oral probiotics is significantly better than just SRP alone, particularly if you want to avoid future treatments and improve your gum health.

And these results were measured after only 12 weeks and by using just with one oral probiotic, L. reuteri, so we will await any clinical studies that look at longer time periods and/or a blend of oral probiotic strains.

One of the reasons we built our Great Oral Health formulation with a total of seven strains of beneficial oral probiotics is that they each bring a benefit to your mouth and work synergistically for a healthier oral environment. We think that taking a daily oral probiotic supplement is preferable by far to ongoing deep cleanings, and more economical to boot!

The study can be found by search for: J Clin Periodontol 2013; 40: 1025–1035. doi: 10.1111/jcpe.12155.

BLIS K12, an anti-bacterial “bullet”

BLIS K12, a super powerful oral probiotic

oral probiotics, BLIS K12, anti-bacterial, natural cold remedyA patented strain of oral probiotics, known as Streptococcus salivarius K12, is a naturally occurring bacteria found in a very small percentage of the human population (2% or less of people have this bacteria in their mouths).

Scientists discovered BLIS K12 by studying people that were unusually free of illness, particularly oral ailments.

These people almost never got ill with sore throats or colds and had few oral ailments, including a low incidence of bad breath, halitosis. Further study showed that these individual’s mouths were naturally populated with a powerfully beneficial bacterial strain, now called BLIS K12.

This was a finding that was of great interest due to its potential for naturally boosting immunity and oral health, so further studies followed. Researchers were particularly interested in how this strain was able to provide such beneficial results, what was the mechanism behind it all?

Well these smart researchers did figure it out and a simplified explanation is given below, but first let’s define a couple terms:

BLIS: an abbreviation that stands for Bacteriocin like Inhibitory Substance (Bacteriocin is a compound word that means a toxin produced by one bacteria that is harmful or lethal to other bacteria).

Peptide: in very simple terms these are just groups of amino acids, proteins, that are bonded together. Basically a compound of amino acids.

OK, still with us? Good, because here is where it gets interesting.

This bacterial strain (S. salivarius K12) actually creates a couple peptides that are like bullets fired against incoming invader bacteria! It is quite clever, the BLIS K12 is actually able to recognize the other bacteria, target it and fire away with these peptide “bullets”. Just like being shot by a gun, these peptide “bullets” (technically they are called BLIS) pop a hole in the invading bacteria cell wall, and then these bacteria effectively bleed to death.

The BLIS K12 (K12 is just a random name given to this strain) bacteria are like roving immune squads, firing away at the “bad” bacteria that cause many types of ear-nose-throat infections as well as oral health ailments such as bad breath, gum disease and plaque formation.

Fantastic news, except if you are one of the 98% of humans that do not naturally possess this bacteria! Thankfully one can supplement with quality oral probiotics and populate your mouth–thus obtaining these great benefits.

But it is important to remember that BLIS K12 is not a drug but a living bacteria.

Why is this important? Well, it means that one is dealing with living entities and certain lifestyle habits, smoking and drinking in particular, can make it very, very difficult for the BLIS K12 to survive. In addition, the use of heavy chemicals and antibacterial oral products will also work against these beneficial bacteria, as they don’t just target and kill off the “bad” bacteria.

There is another important factor to consider in choosing an oral probiotic product. The oral probiotics have to be effective at the job of integration and adhesion into the oral biofilm (think of “biofilm” as a living, bacterial colony that coats, like a film, your mouth and teeth). Biofilms are like exclusive neighborhoods, they can be hard to get into and resist newcomers! If the oral probiotics can’t get into the “neighborhood” then they can’t go to work.

A quality oral probiotic, such as our Advanced Oral Probiotic Blend from Great Oral Health, is compounded with oral probiotics that have a proven capacity for working their way into the biofilms and extant bacterial colonies in your mouth. In addition, we manufacture our oral probiotics with proprietary ingredients designed to boost the chalky texture which boosts our adhesion factor tremendously.

Keep in mind that while it can take weeks, if not months, to see full results from any probiotic regimen, studies have shown significant results within weeks of taking BLIS K12.

Clinical studies have shown significant results in reducing illness, boosting gum health, improving bad breath and a number of other symptoms associated with the regular use of oral probiotics.

Find out more on our website:

BLIS M18 in Clinical Study Shows Significant Results in Treating Cavity-Prone Children

BLIS M18 and Preventing Cavities

Blonde Smiling Kid Thumbs UpAre oral probiotics effective in preventing cavities, especially in children and young adults? This group of scientific researchers seem to think so and they found significant reductions in the key indicators that lead to cavities, plaque deposits and the presence of the S. Mutans strain of bacteria in the mouth.

The study was conducted by a team of research scientists in Italy to examine the effectiveness of the probiotic strain BLIS M18 as a preventive measure in reducing the incidence of dental caries (cavities) in at-risk patients.

Selected were a group of 76 children that were determined to be at-risk for the development of dental caries. The children were separated into two groups, both dissolved tablets in their mouths but only one group received tablets containing the oral probiotic BLIS M18. The children continued to take the tablets for 90 days, at which time results were measured.

The group taking the oral probiotic M18 saw a 50% reduction in the amount of dental plaque. Additionally, and quite importantly, this group also saw a 75% reduction in mutans streptococci-these are the bacteria that are closely associated with causing cavities. That was a huge result and improvement from a very simple daily action of sucking on a lozenge.

Here is what the researchers wrote:

“According to our results, 90 days treatment with this oral probiotic has increased the chances of avoiding new cavities in children”

They went on to discuss how the strain M18 actually releases bacteriocins (like natural antibiotics) that inhibit the growth of the S. Mutans bacteria. The M18 strain also releases enzymes that help to breakdown plaque and to balance the pH levels in the mouth.

As the researchers said “dietary supplementation with BLIS M18 significantly increases the chances of avoiding dental caries… ”

Our Advanced Oral Probiotics are packed with BLIS M18, and also BLIS K12 which is great for overall immune health and fighting ear-nose-throat infections. What a great and simple way to boost the oral health for the whole family.

How to Prevent Cavities and Inhibit Dental Caries

Your Basic Rules and Guidelines to Prevent Cavities and Inhibit Dental Caries

We covered a lot of territory in the last few posts, so a simple summation of what to do is in order.

Here you are, how to prevent tooth decay:

smiling people, healthy smiles, healthy teeth, prevent tooth decay, oral healthFirst, realize that dental caries don’t “just happen” and although we are all genetically different “poor genes” is not an excuse. Realizing that you CAN PREVENT tooth decay is step one.

Two, understand that the fundamental cause of tooth decay is the effect of corrosive acid on the teeth. This literally eats away at the enamel and sucks the minerals right out as well. Over time the enamel disappears and holes or cavities appear. So controlling the acidic pH in your mouth is the top preventative approach.

Three, acid does not just appear either. It is created by bacteria, the chief culprit being the group of bacteria known as mutans streptococci. Here is a very basic view of how the streptococci bacteria contributes to tooth decay:

These are highly adaptable and hardy bacteria. They have specialized properties that allow them to adhere to the teeth, this adhesion of bacteria (also known as BIOFILM) is what forms plaque. This bacteria uses SUCROSE to form the sticky substance that allows adhesion. The bacteria also metabolizes other sugars–such as glucose, fructose and lactose–into acids. The acid then eats away at the teeth.

Four, the important concept here is that a sticky biofilm, in constant and immediate content with your teeth, will lead to tooth decay WHEN that biofilm becomes ACIDIC. You will never get rid of the biofilm, nor do you need to. What you need to do is to fight the acidic conditions and control the balance of bacteria in the biofilm.

Five, dietary factors can help greatly in controlling the acidic pH levels in your mouth and in the biofilm. Sugars and simple carbohydrates are super-food for the mutans streptococci and so limiting these foods is an important step. Perhaps even more important is limiting the frequency and timing of such foods. Constant or ongoing exposure to such foods means that your mouth is always acidic and this is BAD.

Follow such foods with a water-rinse. An additional step would be to follow with non-acidic foods or drink (cheese or black tea-no sugar!). Saliva plays a huge role in lowering the acidic pH, so a sugar-free gum with Xylitol is a good way to follow up such foods–as this both stimulates saliva flow and inhibits bacterial growth.

Six, twice-a-day oral hygiene including both brushing and flossing. It is important to keep in mind that the purpose of these actions is NOT to just clean food from the mouth. The most important reason is to disturb the bacterial growth and formation of the biofilm. Brushing and flossing does just that and so is not something to “put off” or “catch up” on, it must be done regularly and twice-a-day for optimal disruption of the oral bacteria life cycle.

Seven, using our advanced oral probiotics (Great Oral Health) to “fight fire with fire.” Oral probiotics infiltrate into the biofilm on your teeth and into your gums. Here they stabilize the pH by a) crowding out the s. mutans bacteria, b) producing substances that actively inhibit the growth of the s. mutans and c) they produce non-acidic byproducts that actually counter the acids created by the s. mutans.

SV Bottle 375pxThe beauty of our oral probiotics is that they go to work as part of your body’s natural and native system, this means not only more powerful results but also “around the clock” protection as they become a part of the living, active biofilm in your mouth.

Unlike drugs or harsh chemicals that kill off ALL bacteria (fundamentally a bad idea) our oral probiotics will build a healthier and beneficial environment in your mouth. As this occurs, then your body is able to go about restoring the damage and healing itself. We have even included powerful ingredients to assist in the healing and remineralization of your teeth.

While this process does not occur overnight (the body does need time to heal once a healthy environment is reestablished) the reduction in cavity production and the restoration of gum health has been well documented in multiple medical studies and clinical trials.

There you have it, follow these guidelines–and add our oral probiotics to your regimen–and we can safely say that “Great Oral Health is in your future.”

Food, Diet, Oral Care and Tooth Decay

woman, eating sugary food, tooth decay, cavity, oral health

Foods and Dietary Practices that Can Cause Tooth Decay

If you read our earlier posts you know that the cause of tooth decay is, in simple terms, ACID. Acid is produced by certain bacteria in your mouth, these bacteria produce acid as a part of their life cycle and this production is fueled by sugar.

This process creates acids and an acidic pH level in the mouth resulting in demineralization and erosion of the enamel… creating holes and crumbling the otherwise strong teeth. So the solution lies with controlling the acid and pH created.

The further solution lies with consistently controlling the acidic environment in your mouth. This task is actually simpler than one would think and certainly is simpler than fixing cavities, getting a root canal or wearing dentures!

First is diet, the obvious answer is to avoid or limit sugary foods and acidic drinks. Now, this is not realistic for most of us on a 100% basis but there are ways to moderate the bad effects of acids and sugars in our diet, more on that in a moment.

But, since high sugar intake–whether from sweets, added sugars, condiments or simple carbohydrates, such as white flour that rapidly breaks down to sugars–is bad for your health then cutting back on these is a wise idea… and you might even lose some weight.

Other prime culprits are acidic drinks, such as sodas (whether diet or sugar) and many juices. For example:

  • Gatorade has a pH of 2.4 is loaded with sugar
  • Orange juice isn’t much better with a pH of 3.8 and tons of sugar as well-bad choice
  • Coke and Pepsi are around a pH of 2.5, no need to point out the high sugar content there
  • Most diet sodas are in the 3.0 range
  • For comparison, stomach acid is at a pH of 2.0. A neutral pH is around 7.0–drinks in this range would include milk, water and brewed tea (no sugar)

Point being that these worthless drinks-sodas, diet sodas and even juices–deliver the double whammy of acid and sugars, a perfect cocktail for tooth decay.

One way to help control this is follow sugar intake with some pH balancing foods, such as cheese, or drinks such as black tea (no sugar) or water. However there is another factor that plays a big role in this, timing and exposure. Your body is a wondrous mechanism and it of course has evolved a method of stabilizing acid in the mouth, this is primarily through the production of saliva. Saliva helps to stabilize the pH to non-acidic levels as well as to remove the food particles and sugars from the mouth.

This process takes time, so if one is continually eating or drinking the sugary or acidic foods then the body never has a chance to restore a healthier pH level AND this gives the acid time to eat away at your teeth.

Example: one 16-oz soda or sugary treat taken in one sitting is far, far, far less destructive than that same soda sipped on all day long or a treat nibbled at.

So, while far better to knock off all that inferior food, you can do a lot to control the pH of your mouth by not sipping or grazing on these foods all day long. And when you do so, follow up with a rinse of water or a glass of brewed black tea-or a higher pH food such as a piece of cheese. In addition, chewing with a sugar-free gum (your best choice is a Xylitol sweetened gum) can help to not only clear the mouth but to stimulate saliva flow as well.

MESSAGE: Control the sugars and acidity by minimally NOT GRAZING or DRINKING acidic or sugars or simple carbohydrates throughout the day. Limit consumption of not only quantity but frequency as well. Follow such foods, minimally, with a rinse or swish of clean water.

A Consistent Oral Health Regimen to Prevent Cavities

While we won’t go into the best way to brush or floss your teeth here, there is one point that is important to make and will hopefully help to inspire you to take regular care of your teeth.

Most of us think of brush, flossing or tongue scraping as a means of cleaning our teeth and removing food residue. While this is true there is another VERY IMPORTANT reason we do these actions: we are disturbing the bacterial colonies and disrupting the destructive actions such as acid production and plaque build-up. That is why regular, routine oral hygiene is so important. If it was just food removal and cleaning then one could probably skip it and slack off, but the bacteria has a life cycle and the oral hygiene is a very critical element in the ongoing task of disrupting that life cycle before it causes harm to your teeth and gums.
Lesson to be learned: keep your oral health routine consistent and follow a twice-a-day practice for the best oral health results.

Oral Probiotics for Great Oral Health

Our oral probiotics do a number of amazing things for your mouth and for your health. But there are two actions or benefits that are really important to mention in terms of dental caries or cavities.

  • One, the beneficial bacteria introduced works to inhibit the acid-producing bacteria by both crowding it out and by killing it off. This beneficial bacteria creates its own higher pH levels. So it delivers a double blow against an acidic and destructive pH level, restoring a healthier, neutral pH balance to your mouth.
  • Two, the beneficial bacteria stimulates saliva flow which is critical to the health of your mouth and to combating tooth decay.
  • Three: our formulation contains ingredients that actually remineralize the teeth, helping your body to restore and heal the damage caused by acidic erosion over time.

There you have it, follow this advice, get regular cleanings and consider adding our oral probiotics to your regimen and you’ll be way ahead in winning the game against tooth decay.

Bad Breath? How Probiotics Can Help

Excellent reading on how Probiotics help with bad breath found on Huffington Post


Bad Breath? How Probiotics Can Help

If you’re staying on top of the world of health products, you already know about probiotics. Different from antibiotics, probiotics are a natural way to help your body defend against outside predators. May sound a bit militaristic, but actually probiotics are about trumping bad bacteria with the good. If you’ve missed the probiotic boat, fear not! You can start now and never be behind. Here are some noteworthy mentions of probiotics to get you up to speed.

There are many ways to freshen one’s breath, from odor-neutralizing tablets to oral rinses. One of the most cutting-edge methods of stopping halitosis is oral care probiotics, according to one article. First, some basics: A lot of mouth odor comes from way further down the gastrointestinal (GI) track, and is caused by how the bacteria that inhabit your GI track metabolize the food you send down there. So changing your bacteria can often change the odors from your mouth.

couple, hugging, smiling, fresh breath

Oral care probiotics is a system of bacterial replacement that may be quite effective in stopping oral odor. A study published in the journal Current Opinion in Gastroenterology echoes this idea. This study was conducted as a review of the advances probiotics have made in the previous year. Results proclaim that this was a great year for probiotics because of products such as oral care probiotics that can be used to treat numerous conditions, halitosis being one of them. Probiotics can help replace the odor-causing oral bacteria with other harmless ones.

Basically, oral probiotics contain “good” bacteria that replace or eliminate “bad” bacteria in the body. Recently, there has been an oral care probiotic that will actually benefit the oral cavity itself. How did probiotics come to be?

According to the journal Communicating Current Research and Educational Topics and Trends in Applied Microbiology, Nobelist and Ukrainian scientist Elie Metchnikoff first discovered probiotics in 1907. Metchnikoff posited that flora growing in the stomach and intestine could be changed by replacing them with new bacteria. He also hypothesized that bacteria within the gut caused aging. He coined the term “gerontology,” meaning the study of longevity. This idea has been disproven, but his other probiotic theory has caught wind. It is possible that ingesting milk or yogurt might change the bacteria composition in the gastrointestinal tract.

Studies have also indicated that oral health can be improved through the use of oral care probiotics — more research is still being done, but there have been great advances made. The European Journal of Pediatrics published a study in 2001 that discusses finding the use of a harmless strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) greatly improved bad breath that came from gastric gases. Yet another, more recent study in the journal Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology and Endodontology showed that Lactobacillus salivarius may combat bad breath coming from the mouth. In this study, Japanese researchers gave subjects with halitosis low amounts of L. salivarius and found that after a month, participants’ oral levels of sulfur-producing compounds had significantly decreased. The Journal of Applied Microbiology also published a study that found a week-long course of L. salivarius dramatically dropped the amount of volatile sulfur compounds in the oral cavity.

As noted in an article, a study in the International Journal of Contemporary Dentistry noted that adding Streptococcus salivarius bacteria into the mouth after rinsing with mouthwash can reduce levels of sulfur on one’s breath — meaning less bad breath. Researchers stated oral care probiotics are able to reduce halitosis by muscling out harmful (and halitosis-producing) bacteria with strains that will not produce oral odors. Other noteworthy applications of beneficial bacteria strains can help the body’s resistance to (and may reduce occurrences) of gum disease, cavities, sore throats and more.

Another article notes the ever-increasing amount of positive studies being published for oral care probiotics. A Swedish study found that the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus may have many benefits for users’ oral health. These beneficial bugs might combat many harmful bacteria that cause the most severe dental problems. Unfortunately, only a small amount of people have active amounts of these microbes naturally in their mouths. Studies done in the 1960s initially showed that 30 to 40 percent of people had Lactobacillus. However, a current study found that this number has sharply decreased to a mere 10 to 20 percent of people. What brought this drastic change? Researchers say it may be due to diet.

Gabriela Sinkiewicz, a Malmo University researcher that led this recent study believes that people don’t eat as much fermented food (such as sauerkraut) and we use preservatives that kill bacteria in both the body and the food we consume. By introducing probiotics into the mouth, we may be able to fight off more harmful bacteria and stop them from infecting our mouths. So if your diet is full of preservatives, perhaps taking an oral care probiotic would be a good choice. Given the rise in probiotics, there is a variety to choose from. As stated earlier, there are now even oral care products that contain probiotics.

While tons of studies are continuing to be done, the articles above do point out the found benefits of using oral probiotics. It may seem like a lot of science, but the basic notion is simple: Beneficial bacteria found in probiotics can replace existing harmful ones. Perhaps probiotics are worth trying the next time you’re looking for a fresh breath solution.


Original Article can be found here.


To Beat Bad Breath, Keep the Bacteria in Your Mouth Happy Curing halitosis requires the right balance of oral microbes


Fantastic Article from Scientific America on Probiotics to helping to create a healthy mouth!

To Beat Bad Breath, Keep the Bacteria in Your Mouth Happy
Curing halitosis requires the right balance of oral microbes

Apr 16, 2013 |By Deborah Franklin


Most adults have bad breath occasionally, particularly when their mouth dries out after, say, a full night’s sleep or a long, dehydrating plane flight. About 25 percent of people worldwide, however, have chronic foul breath. Researchers around the world figured out years ago that gas-emitting bacteria on the tongue and below the gum line are largely responsible for rotten breath. But determining how best to eradicate these microbes’ tenacious odors has been difficult.

Solutions to date offer only temporary relief. Even scrupulously skipping onions and garlic, swishing mouthwash after every meal, mouth_and_bacteriaand brushing and flossing one’s teeth until they gleam like pearls will probably not sweeten a case of stubbornly stinky breath. Lightly scraping away any coating on the tongue can greatly improve the fragrance of one’s breath for at least a few hours. Certain bacteria-slaying mouthwashes provide short-term freshness, too, although many produce unpleasant side effects, such as a tingling sensation in the mouth. Lately some scientists have developed innovative mouth rinses that neutralize the rancid compounds produced by bacteria.

Recent evidence from international research suggests, however, that the most effective strategy for beating back bad breath may be more about nurturing helpful bacteria in the mouth than about destroying the offending germs and their by-products. Instead of singling out ostensible culprits, microbiologists are now shifting their focus to entire communities of microbes on the tongue, gum and teeth to figure out why some people have a sweeter-smelling oral village than others.

Breath’s Chemical Code
Bad breath has, of course, plagued humans for ages. Young girls, Hippocrates advised, should regularly rinse their mouths with wine, anise and dill seed. By the early 1970s Joseph Tonzetich of the University of British Columbia had begun to tackle the problem with technology. He used his lab’s gas chromatograph, a machine that separates a complex gaseous bouquet into its constituent compounds, to tease out reeking breath’s signature chemicals.

Sulfur compounds that easily vaporize were among the stinkiest chemicals Tonzetich identified in bad breath, especially hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs, and methyl mercaptan, which smells like rotten cabbage. Since then, scientists have detected around 150 molecular components of human exhalations, many of them putrid. Dimethyl sulfide (think rotten seaweed) and the tellingly named cadaverine, putrescine and skatole are just a few such pungent molecules. Still, hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan stand out: in study after study, the higher the levels of these two molecules in breath, the more that breath offends the human nose.

These smelly compounds are waste products released by the millions of bacteria feasting on particles of food and tissue in our mouth. Above the gum line, gram-positive species, which have relatively simple cell walls, dominate dental plaque—the living film of bacteria coating teeth. Streptococcus mutans and other sugar-loving gram-positives spew acid and dissolve enamel but are not heavy producers of foul-smelling compounds. In contrast, gram-negative bacteria—which have an extra cell wall layer—live mostly below the gum line and are much gassier. Some of these resilient bacteria, including Porphyromonas gingivalis, Treponema denticola and Prevotella intermedia, thrive in gaps between the gum and tooth and in the mosh pit crevices of the tongue.

Bacterial Colleagues
Gram-negative bacteria on the tongue may produce most of the foul odors in breath, but recent research emphasizes that no single type of oral bacterium creates bad breath on its own. Mel Rosenberg, an emeritus professor of microbiology at Tel Aviv University, and his colleague Nir Sterer recently found, for example, that some strains of gram-positive bacteria secrete an enzyme that clips sugar molecules off the proteins found in food, which in turn makes those proteins more digestible for nearby gram-negative organisms. The more proteins the gram-negatives digest, the more odors they emit.

Such interactions illustrate why researchers are increasingly interested in oral ecology, viewing the mouth as a kind of densely populated tide pool. Fresh breath reflects a healthy mouth, which is not necessarily one that lacks “bad” bacteria, scientists are realizing, but rather one in which overlapping bacterial colonies hold one another in check.

Bacterial geneticists contributing to the Human Microbiome Project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, have so far identified about 1,000 species of bacteria that commonly inhabit human mouths. Yet one person’s particular mix of “bacterial colleagues,” as Rosenberg calls them, is probably quite different from another’s. “Each person has maybe 100 to 200 of those bacterial species colonizing their mouth at any given time,” says Wenyuan Shi, a microbiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

During birth our previously sterile mouth picks up some of our mother’s bacteria, and in childhood we quickly acquire new microbial colonizers. Studies suggest that a preschooler’s population of mouth microbes most closely mimics his or her primary caregiver’s. As the years go on, diet, stress, illness, antibiotics and other forces can shift the demographics of an individual’s microbial community—and change its collective aroma. When bacteria that release smelly compounds dominate, chronic bad breath may be one of the consequences.

Many current treatments do not improve oral ecology—in fact, they might make matters worse. Although some mouthwashes merely mask unpleasant odors, alcohol-based rinses sold in drugstores and prescription rinses containing chlorhexidine or other antiseptics target all oral bacteria, stinky and otherwise. Shi says that approach has several drawbacks. A chlorhexidine rinse, for example, may improve breath for as long as 24 hours but can temporarily change the taste of food. In one study, 25 percent of subjects experienced a tingling or burning sensation on the tongue after a week of use. Heavy use of rinses with alcohol can dry out the mouth, sometimes exacerbating bad breath. Further, wiping out too many of the mouth’s native bacteria could disrupt the usual checks and balances, making way for opportunistic species responsible for gum disease and other infections to move in and take over.

A number of researchers are now working on promising alternatives to basically carpet bombing all oral bacteria. Some new mouthwashes go after the stink rather than the stinkers with ions of zinc or other metals that bind and neutralize sulfur compounds. Rosenberg, who started his career as a petroleum microbiologist, has developed a two-phase oil-and-water rinse that temporarily reduces bad breath by sopping up some of the oral debris and microbes that toothbrushing, flossing and tongue scraping miss.

Other teams are investigating whether probiotics rife with a gram-positive bacterial strain known as Streptococcus salivarius K12 can fight halitosis. A common resident of the mouth and respiratory tract, S. salivarius K12 is benign and known to produce substances that deter harmful bacteria. In a recent study by researchers in New Zealand and Australia, volunteers gargled with a chlorhexidine mouthwash to clear their palate of many native bacteria and subsequently sucked on lozenges laced with K12. Seven and 14 days later they had much sweeter breath. Presumably K12 outcompeted its foul-smelling kin, opening up niches for less offensive species.

At U.C.L.A., Shi and his team are working on a mouthwash that contains a peptide—a chain of amino acids smaller than a protein—tailored to selectively kill S. mutans, the ringleader behind tooth decay. Researchers could develop an analogous peptide to weed out the bacteria behind bad breath, Shi says. A rinse containing such peptides might free up real estate on the tongue for less malodorous microbes, if used in moderation. Rinsing every day risks a sudden and drastic shift in oral ecology that could have unexpected repercussions.

Shi himself brushes and flosses daily but does not use a mouthwash or even a tongue scraper because his family assures him that his breath smells fresh. “I’m one of the lucky ones,” he says. “My goal is to help other people be lucky, too.”

Common Scents
Researchers have identified around 150 different molecules in human breath, many of which offend the human nose. Here are what some of the more malodorous compounds smell like.

Rotten eggs
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S)

Rotten cabbage
Methyl mercaptan (CH3SH)

Allyl mercaptan (C3H6S)
Allyl methyl sulfide (C4H8S)

Dimethylamine (C2H7N)
Trimethylamine (C3H9N)

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