Promoting Good Bacteria in the Mouth with Prebiotics

By Bridget M. Burns in Natural Products

You are probably aware that your mouth contains bacteria—it's part of the reason we brush and floss daily. But did you know that some of that bacteria is actually good for you? With so many antibacterial mouthwashes and other oral care products on the market, it can be confusing to understand what is best for your mouth's microbiome. The good news is that, as you fight bad bacteria, there are things you can do to promote good bacteria in the mouth, too.

What's in Your Oral Microbiome?

Every person's mouth contains a complex makeup of microscopic bacteria, including good and bad bacteria. In fact, a review in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology states that the oral cavity actually harbors over 700 species of bacteria. That's the second largest collection of microbiota in your body, after your gut!

This microbiome exists in a state of equilibrium that helps maintain your health. Disruptions to this equilibrium are what allow pathogens to cause disease and dental health issues. A study in PLOS ONE states that evidence has shown the composition of oral microbiota to be correlated with periodontitis and cavities, and perhaps conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and several cancers.

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Maintaining a Balance of Bacteria

According to the National Institutes of Health, good and bad mouth microbes live in communities protected by a slimy, sticky material called a matrix. The good bacteria in the mouth help to keep the bad in check, preventing them from forming plaque and damaging teeth. The good microbes also help you to digest food and protect against other harmful microbes introduced into your biome by food.

Several things affect an individual's microbiome. These include environmental factors, genetics, diet, and oral care habits. Maintaining a regular routine of brushing your teeth at least twice a day can help you remove plaque and maintain a healthy oral microbiome, as the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry explains. Keeping your mouth's microbiome in check is also one of the many benefits of flossing daily.

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Prebiotics in Your Oral Care Routine

There's a growing body of research looking into the connection between oral prebiotics and mouth health. Prebiotics are nutrients that promote the growth of preexisting good bacteria. These are different from probiotics, which are foods that contain microorganisms (such as yogurt).

So far, much of the research done on the efficacy of using prebiotics focuses on gastrointestinal health. Research on the use of prebiotics and probiotics for oral health is in early stages, but a study in the Journal of Oral Microbiology states that it's possible that prebiotic therapies may enhance periodontal health.

The Tom's of Maine Prebiotic Toothpaste helps to support the good bacteria and crowd out the bad. By feeding the good bacteria in your mouth and reducing odor associated with bad breath, it helps to maintain a healthy balance. It also delivers all the other benefits you would expect from your toothpaste, such as whitening, fighting tartar, fighting cavities, and strengthening enamel.

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Why It's Good

As more research is done on prebiotics, people are discovering how they can support good bacteria in the body. By introducing prebiotics to your oral care routine, you can help to keep your oral microbiome healthy and balanced.