When we hear the word ‘probiotics,’ we don’t typically consider them beneficial for the mouth, but rather, the gut. While probiotics certainly have their place in digestive health, at our dental office in Sparks, we’ve come across some research that may suggest a link between certain types of probiotics and better overall oral health.
What Are Probiotics?
Talks about probiotics have been increasingly popular throughout the past couple of years. But what are probiotics and why are they good for you? Simply, probiotics are live microorganisms that help support our bodies. These microorganisms are usually bacteria, but not the bad bacteria that we normally think about and that make us sick. The bacteria we refer to when talking about probiotics are the good bacteria that help us stay healthy.
Different Probiotics Treat Different Things
You may remember some yogurt companies in particular mentioning probiotics in their advertisements. These probiotics specifically help with digestion and support gut health by keeping enough good bacteria around to fight off the bad bacteria off. There are other types of probiotics around that tend to help different areas of the body. In this case, we’re referring to oral probiotics.
Oral probiotics are ones that are being researched to study their effects on oral health. And there may be some exciting news in the future. Initial studies support the idea that there may be a positive correlation between specific types of probiotics and reducing the risk of gum disease, plaque, and bad breath.
Let’s Talk About Bifidobacterium & Lactobacillus
Don’t worry about how to pronounce them, let’s just focus on why we’re taking a closer look at them. Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are strains of probiotics and are the two that are mainly used in probiotic research in relation to oral health. Found naturally in both the bodies and mouths of mammals, Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus have been studied closely to see if there was a connection between increasing the amount of them in test subjects and healthier mouths. While the amount of research we currently have is limited, and the evidence is not yet conclusive, there have been cases where Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus have helped in the treatment of periodontal disease and halitosis, and has seemed to reduce the risk of cavities.
This is exciting news for the dental community. But while we’re waiting on researchers to continue studying the possible connection, we don’t recommend simply starting yourself on a probiotics routine before discussing it with your medical team, including your dentist in Sparks.
Every six months or so you come into our dental office in Sparks to have your bi-annual teeth cleaning. This typically means a little bit of gentle scraping to remove plaque buildup, a thorough flossing, and a finishing polish. While one purpose for these hygiene visits is indeed to get your teeth super clean, there are several other reasons why these twice a year appointments are so important.
X-Rays Provide a Detailed Picture
Your dental hygienist has a trained eye and knows what to look when performing your cleaning, but the human eye can only see so much. That’s why we rely on dental x-rays to get a closer view at your teeth and jaw bone. These images, often produced by safe, low-radiation x-rays, allow both your hygienist and your dentist in Sparks to see any cavities that are still too tiny to see with the naked eye. Some types of x-rays can also show any problems lurking below the actual teeth such as an abscess or bone loss.
We Look at More Than Just Teeth
At each one of your appointments, your hygienist and dentist aren’t only looking for any dental problems, they’re also on the lookout for signs of several systemic diseases. There have been many studies that support a link between oral health and overall health. In fact, sometimes diseases that can affect the whole body are first identified at a dental visit, according to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. These diseases may include diabetes, oral cancer, and heart disease.
It’s the Best Time to Ask Questions
Over time, teeth may shift, gums may recede, or tooth sensitivity may increase. Your bi-annual dental hygiene appointments are a great time for you to discuss any changes to your oral health or any concerns you may have with your dentist. It’s also when you may choose to talk about any cosmetic dentistry or restorative dentistry treatments you’ve been debating on for awhile.
Keep Up with Your Oral Hygiene at Home
Regular cleanings and exams are a great way to catch and treat any problems before they become larger, more serious issues. But these cleanings alone won’t keep smiles healthy for long. It’s still important to maintain a proper oral hygiene routine at home. This means brushing twice a day and flossing once a day for optimal oral health.
We understand that sometimes it’s difficult to go to the dentist, especially if you aren’t experiencing any pain or suspect any problems. But regular appointments at our Sparks dental office can help prevent those issues from occurring the first place.
If it’s time for your dental cleaning, give us a call to schedule an appointment.