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Am J Dent. 2009 Dec;22(6):329-38.

Probiotics: health benefits in the mouth.

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Department of Operative Dentistry and Endodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, Medical University, Plovdiv, Bulgaria.


Probiotics or health-beneficial bacteria have only recently been introduced in dentistry and oral medicine after years of successful use in mainly gastro-intestinal disorders. The concept of bacteriotherapy and use of health-beneficial micro-organisms to heal diseases or support immune function was first introduced in the beginning of the 20th century. Later the concept lead to the development of modem dairy industry and even today most probiotic strains are lactobacilli or bifidobacteria used in milk fermentation. The mechanisms of probiotic action are mainly unknown but the inter-microbial species interactions are supposed to play a key role in this together with their immuno-stimulatory effects. The introduction of probiotic bacteria in the mouth calls for ascertainment of their particular safety. Since acid production from sugar is detrimental to teeth, care must be taken not to select strains with high fermentation capacity. The first randomized controlled trials have nevertheless shown that probiotics may control dental caries in children due to their inhibitory action against cariogenic streptococci. Less evidence exists on their role in periodontal disease or oral yeast infections. Furthermore the best vehicles for oral probiotic applications need to be assessed. So far mainly dairy products have been investigated but other means such as probiotics in chewing gums or lozenges have also been studied. From the clinical practitioner's point of view direct recommendations for the use of probiotics cannot yet be given. However, scientific evidence so far indicates that probiotic therapy may be a reality also in dentistry and oral medicine in the future.

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