Can Probiotic Supplements Help Prevent Tooth Decay?

Probiotic supplements are being trialled as a way to prevent dental cavities. The results are positive, but not conclusive. The best way to prevent cavities remains keeping a low frequency of refined sugars, like sucrose, and cleaning thoroughly with brushing and flossing to reduce plaque load in the mouth.

Probiotics for dental prevention focus on introducing bacterial species that are less likely to cause decay or that play a positive role in the normal bacterial flora in your mouth. Dairy products have mainly been trialled to act as a delivery vehicle, but it has been suggested that a slower release delivery may be more beneficial. Our mouths have a lot of normal bacteria which can actually aid in the digestion process and keep the less desirable bacteria at bay.

probiotic bacteria magnified

Magnified Probiotic Bacteria

Taking these probiotics has shown a reduction of Streptococcus Mutans, one of the leading dental caries (dental decay) causing species. High levels of Strep. Mutans have been known to be associated with increased caries risk for many years. This reduction should help to lower risk, but the studies were quite short, so the long term benefits are difficult to quantify. It is not known if the introduction of the probiotics disrupts the biofilm (the layer of organic tissue, including bacteria) over the teeth in any significant way.

Increasingly the benefits of probiotics are being shown for gut microflora and digestive health, so we can assume that this will be a growth area for oral health. We already know the normal oral flora has a big impact on oral health and trying to control that is a natural next step. We look forward to advancements in the probiotic supplement area that may give a positive effect on dental health, but there is not enough evidence yet to warrant taking oral probiotic supplements on a daily basis to protect against dental disease. There are currently no specific consumer formulations for oral health, but there are plenty of general health probiotics available.