Think outside the gut: Probiotics for oral health


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The composition of an individual’s microbiome significantly impacts their health and risk of developing intestinal and systemic diseases. The oral microbiome is a major contributor to our oral health, which in turn is intimately linked to systemic health, the ability to fend off disease, and our overall quality of life. The use of selected, orally-targeted probiotics now offers a highly complementary approach that promises to deliver the next generation of oral and throat healthcare. This article discusses recent published studies (2012-present) that highlight the clinical evaluation of selected probiotics for halitosis, throat infections, and dental health.

The human microbiome (bacteria, fungi, and viruses) is greater than ten times the number of our own mammalian cells (1-4). To date, the majority of attention from the scientific, health, and commercial perspectives has focused on the microbiome of the gut. However, we have now entered the era of appreciating the importance of the microbial communities in other body regions, especially those that inhabit the oral cavity (3-5). The microbiome of the oral cavity is diverse, with over 700 different bacterial species identified on the tongue, teeth, gums, inner cheeks, palate, and tonsils (Figure 1). Although saliva contains no indigenous bacteria, it contains the bacteria shed from biofilms from other areas of the oral cavity. Over 20% of these bacteria are members of the genus Streptococcus, the most predominant genus in the oral cavity (6) The oral microbiome also contains several disease-associated viruses, two non-pathogenic protozoans, approximately seven predominant fungi genera, and a several species of non-bacterial prokaryotic organisms termed Archaea (3-5). Oral health is determined, largely, by ...