Do you find yourself constantly reaching for gum, mints, and mouthwash to mask your breath? Bad breath can be inconvenient, embarrassing and uncomfortable, and unfortunately popping stick after stick of gum only masks the odor rather than addressing the underlying cause. Luckily, scientific studies are suggesting a new solution: probiotics. Probiotics target the source of your bad breath to permanently eliminate it, rather than temporarily masking the smell.
Why do we get bad breath?
There are about 1,0000 species of bacteria that can be found in the human mouth and each person has between 100 to 200 of these bacterial species colonizing their mouth at any given time. They can live on your teeth, on your tongue and deep in your gums. The type of bacteria your mouth can aquire can change depending on your diet, stress levels, illness, antibiotics - and change its aroma.
About 25 percent of people worldwide, however, have chronic foul breath. Researchers around the world figured out years ago that gas-emitting bacteria on the tongue and below the gum line are largely responsible for rotten breath. But determining how best to eradicate these microbes' tenacious odors has been difficult. - Scientific American
Additionally, a lot of mouth odour comes from further down the gastrointestinal (GI) track, and is caused by how the bacteria that inhabit your GI track metabolize the food you send down there. So changing your bacteria can often change the odors from your mouth.
Probiotics can help by replacing "bad" bacteria in your gut with "good" bacteria strains, creating fresh, healthy breath from the inside out. "Bad breath expert" Dr. Harold Katz suggests that in addition to tools like mouthwash and a tongue scraper, oral care probiotics can be an effective, permanent tool to combat bad breath. Changing the bacterial composition of your gut and mouth can do more for your health than just freshen your breath: bacteria are responsible for tooth decay, cavities, acid erosion, sensitive, bleeding gums, plaque, tooth staining, and more.
Where's the proof that probiotics work?
Scientific research in the field of probiotics is ongoing, but several recent studies have offered positive results. A paper in the European Journal of Pediatrics (2001) showed that a harmless strain of E. coli bacteria eased bad breath caused by odors in the GI tract, while another in Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology and Endodontology suggested that Lactobacillus salivarius combats bad breath in the mouth itself. Another article in the International Journal of Contemporary Dentistry suggests that adding S. salivarius directly to the mouth after using mouthwash can reduce odor-causing sulfur compounds by replacing the sulfur-producing bacteria with beneficial strains.
How do I use probiotics for oral care?
If your suffering from bad breath, you can get probiotics from several sources. For the bacteria in you gut, you can start eating probiotic-rich foods (such as yogurt, miso, kimchi, and pickled vegetables). But if you're worried that your diet doesn't supply enough probiotics, there are many probiotic supplements available.
For the bacteria in your mouth, the best way to use probiotics is to open the capsule and rinse your mouth with the contents. The "good" bacteria in the probiotics will muscle out the "bad" bacteria adhering to your tongue, gums and teeth.
Brushing your teeth before consuming the probiotic is a good idea, too. Don't eat or drink anything 30 minutes after using the probiotic to ensure that the good bacteria gets the chance to adhere to the surfaces in your mouth.