- Continuing Education
People frequently say they wish they could just take a pill to fix something. The use of probiotics has become more popular in increasing the supportive bacteria, while decreasing the harmful bacteria. Probiotics are live microorganisms, which are believed to be beneficial to the host in a symbiotic relationship that tends to identify with commensalism. Specific probiotic bacteria can assist in areas of dental caries prevention rather than the prevention of periodontal disease. For instance, studies have shown increasing the levels of Lactobacillus paracasei can inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans, which is responsible for dental caries. This process usually occurs after two weeks of routinely taking the probiotic designated for this purpose.13
When it comes to probiotic use for the prevention of periodontal disease, it becomes more complicated due to the different bacteria that attach to bone versus the soft tissues. For simplification in regards to orthodontic treatment and an increased probability of developing gingivitis, lets focus on the presence of Streptococcus oralis and Streptococcus uberis. If these bacteria are present, it indicates good periodontal health.14 While the use of probiotics is fairly new in the dental arena, the idea of utilizing them in situations where patients are at greater risk for dental disease is a great concept.