Probiotics have been used as dietary supplements to improve digestive health for several years. Recent studies have also indicated that probiotics can actually improve your oral health. Dental probiotics can be included as part of your oral hygiene regimen and may also make your teeth whiter. While this may seem counter-intuitive, (since probiotics are considered to be a good type of bacteria, yet bacteria causes tooth decay), it is actually true. So how can probiotics help your teeth?
Not All Bacteria are Created Equal
The first thing you need to know is that, although bacteria can cause tooth decay, not all bacteria damages your teeth. The bacteria that causes cavities is a variation on the Streptococcus bacteria called Streptocuccus mutans or Streptococcus sobrinus. Other bacteria, called lactobacilli, can also cause tooth decay.
These bacteria reside in a substance called biofilm. The biofilm sticks to your teeth, causing the bacteria to adhere to the surface of the enamel. Food particles and other substances cling to the biofilm and, throughout the day, the bacteria feeds on those particles. As the bacteria feeds, it releases an acid as a waste product. That acid breaks down tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay.
Regular cleaning--brushing, flossing and rinsing--temporarily remove all or most of that biofilm. However, as the day goes on, the biofilm can start to build up pn your teeth again, which is why you need to brush your teeth at least twice a day.
Probiotics can further break down the biofilm on your teeth, and reduce your risk for cavities. While they are breaking down the biofilm, probiotics are also naturally breaking down some of the stains and whitening your teeth.
How Dental Probiotics Work
Dental probiotics contain bacteria that are similar to the ones that cause cavities, but they behave differently when they come in contact with your teeth. They do not release an enamel-eroding acid.
These bacteria (Streptococcus oralis KJ3, Streptococcus uberis KJ2, and Streptococcus rattus JH145) were synthesized into a dental probiotic that is specially treated to be safe for use. The collective name for these bacterial strains is ProBiora3.
To be most effective, you need to use the dental probiotic product on freshly-cleaned teeth, so there are very little bacteria in your mouth. When you use ProBiora3, the beneficial bacteria cling to the biofilm in place of the damaging bacteria. This coating action prevents the damaging bacteria from clinging to your teeth, and prevents tooth decay.
Oral Probiotics Brands
Currently the ProBiora3 strain is used in products with the “Evora” label, including:
EvoraPlus and EvoraKids are over-the-counter supplements that you dissolve in your mouth once a day, after brushing your teeth. The EvoraPet is also an over-the-counter product that you can add to your pet’s food to help improve its dental health. EvoraPro is the professional-grade product, intended for dentist offices.
At the time of this writing there were no other dental probiotics products on the market containing ProBiora3.
People with compromised immune systems should avoid using many probiotic substances because the bacteria can actually make them sick. If you fall into this group and are considering using dental probiotics, speak with your dentist and your doctor before use.