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Probiotics, or live microorganisms known as friendly bacteria, can have health benefits that extend far beyond the stomach. A promising area of research is the use of probiotics for oral health, as scientists have discovered that they are an effective, natural and economic means of fighting gum disease, plaque and bad breath.

How Do Probiotics Work?

Probiotics work by targeting the culprits responsible for your family’s most common oral health issues: infection-producing microbes, also called pathogens. Specifically, the friendly bacteria boost your immune system and hinder pathogens from binding to your body’s tissues. Probiotics can also kill or curtail the growth of pathogens by producing agents that make it harder for them to live and thrive.  Probiotics also have properties that reduce inflammation, a benefit that curtails the harmful effects of pathogens. In addition, they can stimulate bone formation, which helps repair the bone that deteriorates from advanced forms of gum disease.

Dietary Sources

Nature provides an abundant amount of sources for boosting the friendly bacteria in your body. These include probiotics and foods that contain the beneficial microbes, along with prebiotics, the foods that promote the growth of the beneficial microbes in your intestines. Dairy sources of probiotic foods include yogurt, kefir, cultured cottage cheese and buttermilk, while non-dairy sources include fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and a fermented tea called kombucha. Prebiotic foods include raw Jerusalem artichokes, raw hickory root, raw oats, unrefined barley and unrefined wheat.

The use of probiotics for oral health is one of the exciting discoveries that shows the association between the food you eat and disease prevention. If you want to increase your likelihood of enjoying healthy teeth and gums for years to come, eat a healthful diet that includes probiotic foods. Practicing smart oral hygiene, such as regular brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush.