More than 70% of adults 65 and over suffer from some form of periodontitis (tissue inflammation around the teeth). It may be the beginnings of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) or may have advanced to aggressive periodontitis that results in bone loss, weakening of the ligaments that support the teeth, and eventual tooth loss.
While brushing and flossing twice a day is a necessity for oral health, it may not prevent periodontitis from setting in. That’s because your mouth is under siege from pathogenic bacteria in the oral cavity. These disease-promoting organisms disrupt the balance of your oral microbiome, and cause infection, inflammation, cavities, and gum disease, and give rise to unrestrained acid-producing bacteria.
The health threat isn’t relegated to your mouth. Pathogenic oral bacteria and the inflammation they cause have been strongly linked to:
- Cancers of the oral cavity
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s: the population of neuron-destroying amyloid beta grows in adults with periodontal disease
- Lung disorders, including pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and viral hepatitis
- Kidney diseases, including renal insufficiency and chronic kidney disease
Researchers have identified two probiotics that appear to help eradicate pathogenic bacteria in the mouth and colonize the mouth with beneficial bacteria that protects teeth and gums. A January 2015 human study published in the International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences showed that an oral probiotic lowered markers of plaque buildup, gingivitis, bleeding gums, and pocket depth between roots and gums.
Several studies indicate that the natural probiotic strain S. salivarius BLIS M18 can help improve gum health and alleviate inflammation in the oral cavity. S. salivarius generates enzymes that help chip away at plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that coats the teeth…and the primary cause of tooth decay and gum disease!
- salivarius also appears to counterbalance acids and promote normal oral pH. Pathogenic bacteria thrive in low pH environments; not to mention, low pH demineralizes teeth.
By colonizing the mouth with beneficial bacteria, S. salivarius helps destroy the harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay. S. salivarius also produces germ-killing molecules called lantibiotics that go to work to inhibit the proliferation of disease-causing organisms in the mouth.
After testing these benefits in laboratory preclinical studies, researchers validated the effects of S. salivarius on oral health using human studies. One randomized, controlled clinical trial showed that S. salivarius significantly reduced the markers of periodontitis. Male and female participants were first given a thorough teeth cleaning and scraping to remove plaque. Then, half the group was given an S. salivarius lozenge to take every day for 30 days, while the other half received no treatment. Researchers analyzed results at 30 days, and again at 60 days.
- Day 30: the plaque index score decreased by 44%; Day 60: by 37%
- Day 30: the gingival index score decreased by 42%; Day 60: by 35%
- Day 30: the sulcular bleeding index score decreased by 53%; Day 60: by 51%
- Day 30: the probing pocket depth decreased by 20%; Day 60: by 22%
Another probiotic to have on your must-have probiotic list: Bacillus coagulans. Research has shown that Bacillus coagulans can help suppress the progression of Streptococcus mutans, a bacterium that promotes tooth decay.
Adding a Probiotic to Your Oral Care
Experts recommend supplementing with a lozenge that contains both S. salivarius and Bacillus coagulans strains. According to clinical results of the aforementioned study, using a lozenge every day, every other month should do the trick!