Researchers from the University of Chile reported that the addition of Lactobacillus rhamnosus SP 1 ((L. rhamnosus) to milk appeared to reduce cavity prevalence compared to standard milk consumption.
It’s the latest study that investigates the use of probiotics in addressing oral health issues that arise from bacterial activity in the mouth. These can include cavities, gingivitis and periodontitis, or even halitosis (bad breath).
A unique community
Rather like the gut, the oral cavity has its own microbial community that has developed mechanisms to recognise their environment and avoid or adapt to the host.
It stands to reason that an imbalance between bacterial populations in the mouth may contribute to a number of dental diseases.
While the study used probiotic-enriched milk, much focus has been on other methods of delivery with gums, lozenges and even ice cream proving popular.
Ice cream is considered a good vehicle for ‘small’ or stable probiotic bacteria because it is kept frozen yet the water activity remains high.
In addition to L. rhamnosus other potentially beneficial bacteria under investigation include Streptococcus salivarius, Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus acidophilus.
The study was a triple-blind [not even monitoring committee knows which are control and research groups], placebo-controlled randomised trial in which 261 children aged two and three were randomly assigned to two groups.
One group was given 150 millilitres (mL) of milk supplemented with L. rhamnosus SP1 (107 colony forming units (CFU/mL)). Children in the control group were given standard milk.
This procedure was carried out on week days for 10 months. After this period, the cavity prevalence was 54.4% in the probiotic group and 65.8% in the control group.
The percentage of new individuals who developed cavitated lesions in the control group (24.3%) was significantly higher than that in the probiotic group (9.7%).
“A proposed mechanism of action that could explain the beneficial outcome observed in this research project is that the probiotic strain interferes with and modifies the oral biofilm,” the researchers speculated.
“This shifted the oral ecology toward more beneficial bacteria that produce fewer organic acids and thus maintain plaque and saliva pH in a state of equilibrium.”
The findings generally echo those that have found a reduction of cavity lesions or cavity risk factors using probiotics. However, a number of research papers observed these findings in adults, and older children.
Probitoics’ multi-beneficial reputation appeared to be upheld as the researchers reported no occurrences of gastrointestinal disorders or adverse effects as a result of probiotic intervention. This was observed despite this being beyond the scope of the study.
The oral microbiome has recently been implicated in the onset of migraines. A recent study pointed towards the mouth as responsible for bringing on the debilitating headaches that characterise the condition.
Source: Journal of Dental research
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1177/0022034515623935
“Probiotic Compared with Standard Milk for High-caries Children: A Cluster Randomized Trial.”
Authors: R. Cabello et al.
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