Probiotics and Dentistry

What are probiotics?

To put it in simple terms, probiotics are good bacteria.

What are they used for?

One common example of a probiotic use is in fighting diarrhea due to antibiotic use. Have you ever experienced diarrhea while using antibiotics? Well, this happens sometimes because the antibiotic is doing what it is supposed to, eliminate bacteria. But the antibiotic cannot differentiate between good bacteria and bad bacteria and therefore the antibiotic eliminates all of them. When this happens, the good bacteria are not there to help digest the food, and it causes stomach pain and even diarrhea. Most doctors are prescribing probiotics concurrent with the antibiotic prescription to eliminate these digestive problems.

How can they be used in dentistry?

All of us have over 700 different types of bacteria in our mouths. Some of those bacteria are responsible for increasing the acidity in our mouths, creating dental decay or cavities; and others are responsible for forming dental plaque, creating periodontal disease or gum disease.  On the other hand, we also have bacteria that protect us from dental decay and periodontal disease. If there are more bad bacteria than good, our mouths would most likely show signs of periodontal disease and decay, with red, swollen and bleeding gums and perhaps pits and cavities in our teeth.

A good balance of bacteria, with the help of probiotics for those patients that have a predisposition for bad bacteria, helps keep our mouths healthy.