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Updated on December 28, 2022
6 min read

Dental Probiotics

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Your body is home to a unique set of microbes, and about 700 species live in your mouth.5, 7 These include microscopic bacteria, yeasts, and more. Collectively, they make up your unique oral microbiome.

Some oral bacteria are essential for good dental and overall health. Others cause oral health problems like bad breath and tooth decay. 

Maintaining an optimal balance of beneficial bacteria can keep bad bacteria from harming you. Dental probiotics are one way to ensure you have enough healthy bacteria in your mouth.

What are Dental Probiotics?

Probiotics, including dental probiotics, are dietary supplements and food ingredients that restore a healthy balance of good bacteria in your body. Oral probiotics replenish the specific bacterial strains that support a healthy mouth environment.

Together with good oral hygiene and routine teeth cleanings, dental probiotics can help prevent:7

  • Gum disease (periodontal disease)
  • Tooth decay
  • Bad breath
  • Oral cancer

About Probiotics

You’ve probably heard about probiotics in relation to gut health. Perhaps your doctor recommended a probiotic supplement to keep your digestive system healthy when traveling or taking antibiotics. 

Oral Probiotics vs. Gut Probiotics

There are some differences between probiotics for gut and oral health. Certain bacteria strains have been shown to improve oral health. These include:3, 8-10

  • Streptococcus salivarius K12
  • Streptococcus salivarius M18
  • Lactobacillus reuteri
  • Lactobacillus brevis

Most dental probiotic supplements come as chewable tablets or lozenges instead of pills. Because it’s intended to improve oral health, a dental probiotic should remain in your mouth for an extended amount of time. 

How Probiotics Work

Dental probiotics increase colonies of healthy bacteria (viable bacteria) in your oral microbiome. Having enough good bacteria keeps the harmful bacteria at bay.

If you think of your microbiome as a garden, beneficial bacteria are the flowers and harmful bacteria are the weeds. The more the flowers grow and thrive, the less space is available for weeds to take over. In this example, taking probiotics is like planting flower seeds.   

Do Dental Probiotics Actually Work?

Bad Breath and Probiotics

If you’ve been swishing with mouthwash for years to no avail, probiotics for bad breath may be the answer. Taking oral probiotics to increase the good bacteria in your oral cavity is one of the best ways to fight bad breath.4

A University of Connecticut thesis showed a significant improvement in bad breath (halitosis) in 85% of people who took oral probiotic lozenges for one week.8

Gum Disease and Probiotics

Gum diseases like periodontitis and gingivitis can be the underlying cause of bad breath. Specific bacterial strains that are proven to fight gum disease include:3, 9-10

  • Lactobacillis brevis
  • Lactobacillus reuteri

Oral Cancer and Probiotics

A wealth of research suggests a link between oral cancer and the oral microbiome.7 One study found that a specific oral bacteria called Lactobacillus plantarum can prevent cancer growth in the oral cavity. 

Probiotics and Tooth Protection

Tooth protection is one of dental probiotics’ most significant oral health benefits. Many studies show a link between bad bacteria in the mouth and dental caries (tooth decay).4, 6-8

Oral probiotics have been shown to prevent tooth decay by:4, 6-8

  • Reducing dental plaque (bacterial biofilm)
  • Lowering amounts of bad bacteria

7 Potential Benefits of Dental Probiotics

Research has proven many benefits of oral probiotics, including:

1. Eliminates Bad Breath

It’s common to associate bad breath (halitosis) with meals containing onions and garlic. But in 90% of cases, bad bacteria in the oral cavity is the real cause.6 

Oral probiotics are an effective halitosis treatment. They fight bad breath by targeting the bacteria strains that cause it.4

2. Reduces the Risk of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay (dental caries) is a cause of bad breath and one of the most prevalent oral health problems in the world.4 An overgrowth of bad bacteria that break down tooth enamel causes tooth decay.

Taking a dental probiotic reduces the risk of dental caries by decreasing the pathogenic species of bacteria in your mouth.4

3. Prevents Plaque Accumulation

Dental plaque is a cause of decay and bad breath. Plaque results from undesirable bacteria building up on teeth and the gum line.

Removing plaque with a toothbrush and dental floss daily is critical to good oral health. Adding a dental probiotic to your oral hygiene routine can prevent undesirable bacteria buildup.4, 6-8 

3. Improves Gum Health

Many studies show that a dental probiotic can promote oral health in people with gum disease. For people with gum disease, taking an oral probiotic can1, 3-4, 6-10:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Prevent bone loss
  • Reduce gum bleeding

4. Prevents Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is the sixth most prevalent form of cancer worldwide and the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths.7,11

Taking an oral probiotic can inhibit the growth of oral cancer and prevent it from spreading.11

5. Reduces the Risk of Oral Thrush

Oral thrush is an overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeast and can be painful. Several studies show that taking oral probiotics significantly reduces the risk of developing oral thrush.1-2, 4, 6-8  

6. Prevents Other Oral Health Problems

Taking a dental probiotic can help prevent various other oral health issues, such as:8

  • Tonsillitis
  • Pharyngitis (sore throat)
  • Strep throat

7. Improves Overall Health

Your oral health is a good indicator of your overall health. Protecting your oral microbiome with a dental probiotic may reduce your risk for:7

  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory infections
  • Cardiovascular disease

How to Use Dental Probiotics

Oral probiotics come in various forms, including:

  • Chewable tablets
  • Lozenges
  • Chewing gum
  • Drops
  • Mints

Talk to your dentist about your specific oral problems and concerns. They can recommend a probiotic supplement and proper dosage.

Oral probiotics are not a replacement for hygiene practices like regularly brushing your teeth and flossing.

Foods Naturally High in Probiotics

If you want to boost the good bacteria in your oral microbiome but don’t want to take a probiotic supplement, natural probiotics in certain foods can help. 

Many probiotic strains occur in fermented foods, such as:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Tempeh
  • Miso

Some cheeses also contain probiotics. Look for “active cultures” or “live cultures” on the label.

Where to Buy Dental Probiotics

Talk to your dentist about the dental formula oral probiotic that’s best for you. Dental probiotics are available as over-the-counter (OTC) dietary supplements. Here are a few we recommend:

Great Oral Health Chewable Oral Probiotics

Benefits of these oral probiotics include:

  • Proprietary dental formula contains seven clinically researched strains of bacteria
  • Fights bad breath and supports the immune system
  • Long shelf life with no refrigeration necessary

Replenish the Good Dental Probiotic Supplements

This mint-flavored oral probiotic improves upper respiratory and oral health. Other benefits include:

  • Contains probiotics to fight bad breath and improve dental health
  • Formulated with an optimal balance of probiotic strains
  • Superior shelf life of 18 months

Hyperbiotics Pro Dental Chewable Mint Tablets

These oral probiotics improve ear, nose, and throat (ENT) and dental health. Benefits include:

  • Helps good bacteria survive in your oral microbiome
  • Boosts oral health with targeted probiotic strains
  • Made in the U.S.

Summary

  • Dental probiotics are probiotic supplements that specifically target oral health.
  • Probiotic usage has been shown to replenish the good bacteria in your microbiome.
  • A dental formula oral probiotic can reduce the risk of many health issues, including gum disease and bad breath.
  • People who don’t want to take an oral probiotic supplement may benefit from natural probiotics in many fermented foods.
Last updated on December 28, 2022
11 Sources Cited
Last updated on December 28, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Laleman, I, and Teughels, W. “Probiotics in the dental practice: A review.” Quintessence International, 2015.
  2. Mahasneh, SA, and Mahasneh, AM. “Probiotics: A Promising Role in Dental Health.” Dentistry  Journal, 2017.
  3. Vivekananda, MR, et al. “Effect of the probiotic Lactobacilli reuteri (Prodentis) in the the management of periodontal disease: a preliminary randomized clinical trial.” Journal of Oral Microbiology, 2010.
  4. Karbalaei, M, et al. “Alleviation of halitosis by use of probiotics and their protective mechanisms in the oral cavity.” New Microbes and New Infections, 2021.
  5. Mouth Microbes: The Helpful and the Harmful.” NIH News in Health, 2019.
  6. Haukioja, A. “Probiotics and Oral Health.” European Journal of Dentistry, 2010.
  7. Zarco, MF, et al. “The oral microbiome in health and disease and the potential impact on personalized dental medicine.” Oral Diseases, 2012.
  8. Stowick, T. “Contribution of Probiotics Streptococcus salivarius Strains K12 and M18 to Oral Health in Humans: A Review.” University of Connecticut, 2016.
  9. Maekawa, T, and Hajishengallis, G. “Topical treatment with probiotic Lactobacillus brevis CD2 inhibits experimental periodontal inflammation and bone loss.” Journal of Periodontal Research, 2014.
  10. Schlagenhauf, U, et al. “Consumption of Lactobacillus reuteri-containing lozenges improves periodontal health in navy sailors at sea” A randomized controlled trial.” Journal of Periodontology, 2019.
  11. Asoudeh-Fard, A, et al. “Lactobacillus plantarum induces apoptosis in oral cancer KB cells through upregulation of PTEN and downregulation of MAPK signalling pathways.” BioImpacts, 2017.
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