5 Benefits of Dental Probiotics & How To Choose

Heather Dessinger

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benefits of dental probiotics

Did you know that approximately 700 species of microbes live in your mouth – on your teeth, tongue, lips, gums and everywhere in between? (1) If you’re like me, there’s probably a point in your life when hearing that fact would have made you want to swish an entire vat of mouthwash. Health isn’t about eradicating all microbes, though . . . it’s about making sure we nurture the good ones. 

After over a decade of focusing on gut health through probiotics, fermented foods and and staples like bone broth, I thought I had a pretty good handle on how to support a diverse microbiome. Then a few years ago, a dental hygienist put a sample of my saliva under a microscope for me to look at, and I realized I had more work to do. 

Dental Health Impacts Total Body Wellness

dental probiotics benefits 1

Our oral microbiome, which is the community of bacteria, yeasts, and other microbes that live in our mouths, has a profound effect on both dental and overall health.

We know, for example, that the presence of certain periodontal pathogens can trigger inflammatory responses and/or travel to other parts of body, negatively impacting the gut, cardiovascular system, and even brain. (2)(3)(4)

On the flipside, certain beneficial oral strains increase nitric oxide, which plays a vital role in keeping our immune defenses strong, supporting cardiovascular health, and optimizing cognitive function. (5) (6)

Your oral microbiome also influences whether your breath feels fresh or has the sulphuric odor associated with bad breath – more on that later.

Where Did All The Good Guys Go?

Like other ecosystems, diversity is a key biomarker of resilience and vibrancy, but unfortunately modern life has not been kind to our oral microbiome. (7) Sugary foods, antibacterial mouthwashes, traditional toothpastes and other factors can cause oral dysbiosis – or an imbalance of the microbes in the mouth. 

For many of us, these losses were sustained a long time ago and we simply don’t encounter enough beneficial oral bacteria to re-balance things.

Fortunately, though, there are groups of people that continue to experience excellent dental health, and that’s given researchers an opportunity to see what microbial strains they share in common. Their findings have led to the creation of dental probiotics, which allows those of us who don’t naturally have the same beneficial strains to incorporate them into our oral microbiome. 

Before we dive into the details, I want to mention that none of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA, this article is not medical advice, and it is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition. As always, please talk with your healthcare provider about any supplements you are considering. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at the research.

What exactly is a dental probiotic?

Dental probiotics are probiotics that contain strains which benefit oral health. In order to help them populate the mouth, they’re usually consumed as lozenges (or “candies” as my kids call them) that are sucked on or chewed rather than swallowed. This method of delivery allows them to have maximum contact time with the area they’re intended for.

Most lozenges contain between 1-3 bacterial strains that are native to the mouth area and have been shown via clinical studies to support oral health.

5 Benefits of Dental Probiotics

Research suggests that the good bacteria found in dental probiotics compete with specific strains of bacteria known to cause tooth decay. They can also improve oral pH, reduce bad breath and more. Let’s take a closer look at some of the potential benefits. 

dental probiotic benefits

1. May Reduce Levels of Bacteria Associated With Tooth Decay

You know what plaque is – the soft, sticky film that builds up on teeth – but have you ever wondered why dentists are so insistent about getting you to reduce your levels?

Plaque is a biofilm that’s made by oral bacteria as a sort of shelter for them to live in. A little plaque is normal, but excessive plaque buildup can lead to problems including gum inflammation, bad breath and tooth decay.

One strain of bacteria that generates a lot of plaque is Streptococcus mutans – it’s considered to be one of the primary causes of tooth decay and cavities. It tends to form large biofilm colonies that convert dietary sugar into enamel-eroding lactic acid.

Fortunately, S. mutans has a few natural competitors. Streptococcus salivarius M18, for example, is a rare beneficial strain that competes with it and another plaque-producing strain, Streptococcus sobrinus. (8) 

Only about 2% of the population have naturally high levels of Streptococcus salivarius, which is a bummer because it does more than just compete for space. It also releases several compounds (Salivaricin A, Salivaricin 9, and Salivaricin M.) that attack S. mutans, plus one enzyme (dextranase) that breaks down plaque and another (urease) that helps neutralize acid and balance oral pH. (9)(10)

In addition to Streptococcus salivarius M18, other strains of beneficial bacteria that naturally compete with Streptococcus mutans include:

  • Streptococcus A12 (11)
  • Lactobacillus paracasei (12)
  • Lactobacillus reuteri (13)

Important note: While certain probiotics may help balance the oral microbiome, they do not completely eliminate the bacteria that contributes to decay. The FDA has not approved any dental probiotic to prevent any oral issue like cavities, and I don’t rely on them alone to support my oral health.

However, I do consider them to be a valuable part of my oral care routine along with brushing, flossing, avoiding excessive amounts of sugar, and going to the dentist for regular cleanings.

2. Helps With Bad Breath

Most products that are sold to freshen breath focus on one of two approaches: 

  • Masking odor
  • Killing the bacteria that cause halitosis (bad breath)

Bad breath is most commonly caused by a group of bacteria that produce smelly volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) as they break down foods.

The rotten eggs odor some people associate with unpleasant breath usually comes from a VSC called hydrogen sulfide, while others such as methyl mercaptan smell like rotten cabbage. (14)

Because bacteria repopulate quickly, methods that mask odor or kill the bacteria tend to have pretty short-term effects. 

Dental probiotics take a different approach. Instead of trying to kill the strains of bacteria that cause halitosis, dental probiotics introduce beneficial strains that compete with them. (14) 

In this study, 85% of the participants who took an oral probiotic containing two strains of Streptococcus salivarius – K12 and M18 – experienced a significant reduction in VSC-producing bacteria in just one week. Even better, they maintained these lowered levels for two weeks after the last lozenge. 

Some of the strains that have been specifically found to be helpful for freshening breath are: 

  • Streptococcus salivarius  K12
  • Streptococcus salivarius  M18 
  • Lactobacillus salivarius WB21 (15)

3. Supports Gum Health

Excess plaque near or beneath the gum line can cause irritation, bleeding, and other issues. Several studies have found that dental probiotics can support oral health by reducing plaque formation near and/or beneath the gums. 

Some of the strains that have been specifically studied for gum health are: 

  • Lactobacillus reuteri (16)
  • Lactobacillus brevis (17)

4. Supports Ear, Throat & Respiratory Health

Quick Story: Once upon a time, there was a remarkable a boy growing up in Dunedin, New Zealand. While others struggled with throat and respiratory issues, he stayed well through the harsh winters year after year. When curious researchers decided to try to find out why, they discovered that he carried the rare strain of bacteria I mentioned above – Streptococcus salivarius K12.

Research indicates that S. salivarius K12 competes with certain species of pathogenic bacteria, including some that are linked to sore throatsearaches, and respiratory issues. (18)

Other beneficial strains may support the ear, nose and throat areas as well. In this study, kids who took a probiotic containing Streptococcus salivarius  K12,  Streptococcus salivarius M18, Lactobacillus reuteri,  Lactobacillus sakei, and Lactobacillus paracasei enjoyed better overall respiratory function than those who did not. (19)

To recap, the strains that have been studied for ENT and overall benefits include:

  • Streptococcus salivarius K12
  • Streptococcus salivarius M18
  • Lactobacillus reuteri
  • Lactobacillus sakei
  • Lactobacillus paracasei

5.Supports Overall Health

A good oral care routine supports overall health, including gut health and cardiovascular health. According to ethnopharmacologist Dr. Nelson-Dooley, “In people with coronary artery disease, simply beginning an oral hygiene program reduced their cardiac events.” (20)

On the flipside, “One study showed that using mouthwash eliminated the beneficial effects of healthy oral bacteria and raised blood pressure.” 

Also, we swallow about 1 trillion microbes per day – a process that profoundly impacts our gut microbiome and overall digestive health.

dental probiotics before after

My Experience

A few years ago, my dental hygienist popped a sample of saliva under a microscope for me to look at before he started my routine cleaning. Despite many years of focusing on gut health, I was surprised to see a lot of yeast, a higher concentration of overall bacteria than is considered optimal and lot of white blood cells (which may suggest infection or stress). 

My dentist reviewed the results and sent me home with instructions to use dental probiotics and a water flosser. I haven’t been great about water flossing but I did incorporate dental probiotics plus a teeth whitening light therapy device from Primal Life Organics, and subsequent samples have shown steady improvement. 

The “after” photo above was taken before my last cleaning. I mention the light therapy device because some research suggests red and blue light can also positively impact the oral microbiome. If you want to try it out you can buy it for about half the retail price here.

That said, my husband and kids also had noticeable improvement with their samples (my husband’s was pretty impressive, actually). They didn’t add light therapy into their routine, so based on their results I consider probiotics to be a worthwhile part of our oral care routine. 

What To Look For In A Dental Probiotic

When I started looking for a good dental probiotic, I came across a brand that seemed way more affordable. Everything looked good until I realized two things:

  • Lower Potency, Higher Cost – The cheaper brand suggested that I take two lozenges instead of one in order to achieve the potency of other brands. When I calculated the cost of going through the bottle twice a quickly I realized I’d actually be paying more, not less.
  • Storage Issues – The cheaper brand also had to be refrigerated, which would basically make it my job to keep track of when my kids brush their teeth so I can remind them to go to the kitchen to take it. They’re very responsible kids but even I have trouble remembering, so I know that’s what would end up happening. Nopety nope nope, I only choose brands that are specially formulated to retain potency at room temperature. That way everyone has a bottle next to their toothbrush – easy peasy.

Although more research is needed to determine what potency, frequency and specific strains are best to achieve different goals, below are some brands that use several of the strains mentioned in this article and have the cleanest ingredients.

super teeth dental probiotic 3

SuperTeeth Dental Probiotics

SuperTeeth uses three strains (Streptococcus salivarius M18, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Lactobacillus paracasei) that connect with all the benefits above.

This probiotic uses a higher concentration of Streptococcus salivarius M18 than many other brands I’ve seen, making it a good option for families who want to focus on healthy teeth/gums and fresh breath. The other strains they include support immune function and ear/nose/respiratory health.

Their formula is also designed to stimulate the salivary glands, which can help balance oral pH.

It’s safe for children, too. Here’s what they say:

Our dental probiotic is safe for children, but we always recommend checking with your pediatrician if you have any concerns. We also recommend parents use their best judgement as to whether the mints may be a choking hazard, however they may be cut or crushed for small children. (emphasis mine)

In a small, volunteer study conducted in collaboration with Bristle Health, SuperTeeth tested participants oral microbiomes before and after using their dental probiotic for 30 days. At the end of the trial, their dental probiotic changed the oral microbiome by encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria and discouraging the growth of certain pathogenic bacteria. For example:

  • Streptococcus mutans were fully eradicated in the volunteer that had this bacteria present in their mouth.
  • Pepostreptococcus stomatis (linked to bad breath and gum issues) was eradicated in all volunteers
  • The probiotic also encouraged the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Streptococcus gordonii and Streptococcus sanguinis.

Also, they’re a family-owned business and I love supporting them. 

Click here and use code MP10 to save 10%. Free shipping on orders over $50.

Bristle Health Dental Probiotic Review

Bristle Health

If you’re curious what your saliva sample would reveal and your dentist doesn’t check before cleanings, Bristle offers an oral health test that measures 700+ bacteria, fungi and viruses in your saliva to help you understand your oral health and pinpoint imbalances before they become problems.

The results come with a custom plan to improve your oral health, plus discounts on products.

They also make a dental probiotic that incorporates six strains that are intended to prevent or reduce bad breath, gum inflammation and tooth decay:

  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Lactobacillus reuteri
  • Lactobacillus salivarius
  • Streptococcus salivarius BLIS K-12
  • Streptococcus salivarius BLIS M-18

Bristle’s dental probiotic is formulated for kids over five and adults.

Click here and use code MOMMYPOTAMUS to save 10%

orasana dental probiotic review

Orasana

Most dental probiotics are lactose-free, but may have trace amounts of casein since they are fermented with dairy. Although I’m dairy-free right now as part of my healing journey, I don’t react to the trace amounts of dairy found in most dental probiotics.

For those that do, though, Orasana Probiotic Mints are a completely dairy-free option. They don’t include the two most clinically studied strains – Streptococcus salivarius M18 and K12 – because they’re derived from dairy, but they do have several good ones. This is the brand I’d choose if I needed to avoid trace amounts of dairy. 

According to Orasana, their mint are safe for children as long as usage guidelines are followed. They suggest 1-3 times a day and add that the recommended dose should not be exceeded. When given to toddlers, they suggest that the mint be crushed for easier consumption.

Click here and use code WELCOME to save $5 on your first order

replenish the good dental probiotic review

Replenish The Good

Replenish The Good Dental Probiotic contains four strains ( L. paracasei, L. reuteri, Streptococcus salivarius K12 and Streptococcus salivarius M18). Although it contains less M18 than some other brands, it does incorporate K12 which supports ear, nose and throat health. 

The probiotic linked to above is just for adults, but they do have a kids version. I’ve never purchased it so I can’t speak from experience, but it may be another one worth considering.

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This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Anna Cabeca, a gynecologist and obstetrician and a menopause and sexual health expert. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Sources

1. NIH News In Health (2019) Mouth Microbes: The Helpful and the Harmful

2. Li, Yiwen et. al. (2022) The oral microbiota and cardiometabolic health: A comprehensive review and emerging insights

3. Dominy, Stephen et. al. (2019) Porphyromonas gingivalis in Alzheimer’s disease brains: Evidence for disease causation and treatment with small-molecule inhibitors

4. Wang, Shuang et. al. (2021) Fusobacterium nucleatum Acts as a Pro-carcinogenic Bacterium in Colorectal Cancer: From Association to Causality

5. Hezel, MP et. al. (2021) The oral microbiome and nitric oxide homoeostasis

6. Vanhatalo, Anni (2018) Nitrate-responsive oral microbiome modulates nitric oxide homeostasis and blood pressure in humans

7. Lozupone, Catherine et. al. (2012) Diversity, stability and resilience of the human gut microbiota

8. Di Pierro F et. al. (2015) Cariogram outcome after 90 days of oral treatment with Streptococcus salivarius M18 in children at high risk for dental caries: results of a randomized, controlled study

9. Di Pierro, Francesco et. al. (2015) Cariogram outcome after 90 days of oral treatment with Streptococcus salivarius M18 in children at high risk for dental caries: results of a randomized, controlled study

10. Stratum Nutrition (2020) Research & Patent Portfolio for BLIS Oral-cavity Probiotics: BLIS K12™ & BLIS M18™

11. Huang, Xuelian et. al. (2016) A Highly Arginolytic Streptococcus Species That Potently Antagonizes Streptococcus mutans

12. Teanpaisan, Rawee et. al. (2015) Effect of Long-Term Consumption of Lactobacillus paracasei SD1 on Reducing Mutans streptococci and Caries Risk: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial

13. Alforaidi, Sahal et. al. (2020) Oral Colonisation after the Administration of Drops Containing Lactobacillus reuteri

14. Scientific American (2013) To Beat Bad Breath, Keep the Bacteria in Your Mouth Happy

15. Laleman, I. (2015) Probiotics in the dental practice: a review

16. Schlagenhauf, Ulrich (2020) Consumption of Lactobacillus reuteri-containing lozenges improves periodontal health in navy sailors at sea: A randomized controlled trial

17. Tomoki Maekawa and George Hajishengallis (2014) Topical treatment with probiotic Lactobacillus brevis CD2 inhibits experimental periodontal inflammation and bone loss

18. Gasta, Margaret G. et. al. (2017) Probiotics and Disease: A Comprehensive Summary—Part 5, Respiratory Conditions of the Ears, Nose, and Throat

19. Campanella, Vincenzo (2018) Oral probiotics influence oral and respiratory tract infections in pediatric population: A randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled pilot study

20. Burhenne, Mark (2020) The Oral Microbiome & Its Impact on Every Other System in the Body

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About HEATHER

Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding Mommypotamus.com in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

Leave a Comment

50 thoughts on “5 Benefits of Dental Probiotics & How To Choose”

    • Yes, I do. The original studies on the benefits of this strain were looking at how to support children’s oral and immune health, so I’m comfortable giving it to them. 🙂

      Reply
      • Fantastic! Thanks Heather! I appreciate all you do researching topics and presenting them in a balanced way. So helpful! Love your blog!!

        Reply
      • How old is the youngest you give them to? My son is 3 1/2. Not sure how well the minty flavor will go over for him lol but he loves his other chewables!

        Reply
      • Heather, do you and your children take this daily, or on-a-while-off-a-while? I bought some a while back but haven’t been taking it consistently. I think it would be good to do it daily for a while, but what about continually? Since it prevents overgrowth of even the good bacteria, do you think it’s okay to take it routinely? And for the kiddos as well?

        Reply
      • How young of kids would you say is ok? My son is two years old, any recommendations on other probiotics for kids his age that are good to rotate with?

        Reply
  1. When you made the comment of antibacterial mouthwash killing off germs, meaning even the good, I think I might have actually uttered a ‘duh’ (not at you, me). I can’t believe I never made that connection before. My oldest has always had issue with very sinus-y breath, but she’s been using TheraBreath mouthwash lately and it works wonders. It is a proprietary blend, but basically a peroxide solution. I’m now wondering though if this is just as bad for her overall oral health as traditional mouthwash. My youngest also had seven(!) cavities when she was five. I was shocked and devastated as my other two have had no issue with cavities. I think I’m beginning to find the rest of the pieces to these puzzles. Thank you for this info!

    Reply
  2. How do you get these to your house? Do they not need to stay cool? I’ve been feeling pretty limited by our small town selection of probiotics and just bulking up our fermented foods instead, but it would be lovely if you’ve figured out a way to keep these alive on their way to you!

    Reply
    • I have been using these the last couple of months too. On the back of the box it says: “No refrigeration necessary. Store in a cool dry place.”

      Reply
    • Hi Kate! I saw your question, so thought I would jump in and answer!

      We use a patented manufacturing process called LiveBac® in order to ensure the most shelf-stable product possible. All of our products are able to withstand high heat for up to 7 days. Thus, you don’t have anything to worry about in terms of the effectiveness of the product. Even still, the beneficial organisms in our formulas are only susceptible to heat and humidity once the seals of the bottle has been opened (our probiotics are very well protected until then). And as long as your home isn’t consistently above 78° Fahrenheit or excessively humid, there is no need to store them in the refrigerator.

      I hope this answers your question! If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our customer service team, we’re always happy to help. 🙂
      Best,
      Natalie

      Reply
  3. My son, who it sounds like needs this the most with his horrible breath, DESPISES mint. Do you have a 2nd place brand recommendation for another oral probiotic?

    Reply
    • Same brand, buy their Kids ENT formula which has the same strains as dental + 1 other beneficial for ENT health. Tastes like strawberry and my son LOVES it.

      Reply
      • Does anyone have any experience with the brand “Hyperbiotics”?
        I live abroad and can’t purchase any of the brands Heather mentioned without having to sell one of my kidneys, but I can buy the Hyperbiotocs brand. They seem to be okay?

        Reply
  4. So I’ve been looking for vegan & gluten free gummies for my kids. I found this brand nutrapharmusa.com and was wondering if anyone has tried them out?

    Reply
    • I’m wondering the same thing. Have you tried it? I wonder if it could be just thrown in with the yogurt I already make?

      Reply
  5. Thank you for this article!
    I am battling very bad teeth in myself and one of my children. We seem to have the same issues with the same teeth and I want to help her before her permanent molars come in so they are not rotting away like mine are (and her baby teeth are)

    Reply
  6. Thanks for the article, I liked it. I am busy reading ‘Cure Decay Naturally’ and they mention a caution about Stevia. It is an ingredient in the probiotics you mentioned. Are you aware of this? What are your thoughts?

    Reply
  7. Do you know if this is helpful for oral lichen planus? I have been suffering with it for 5 years with ups and downs in severity. Thanks!

    Reply
  8. My daughter who’s is 5 yrs keeps having stuffy dry nose and very strong smell in her mouth no matter how much time teeth we brush, u have any suggestions ? What I should do I have try doing saline solution don’t seem to help

    Reply
  9. You had me sold until I saw that this product has mint! According to Dr. Eric Berg and Dr. Darren Schmidt, herbs such as mint, thyme, oregano, tea tree oil, and neem oil should never be used for dental care because they too are antibacterial. Since this product has mint in it, I can’t see how it wouldn’t destroy existing good bacteria in the mouth. This makes the makers of this product look uncredible, for this reason they seriously should remove the mint from this product if they are going to compete with other emerging brands that have opt out on using mint or other natural antibacterial medicinals for dental care.

    Reply
  10. I have chronic bad breath and am on my second day with using pro dental. How long does it generally take to reduce bad breath ?

    Reply
  11. Hi Heather, since this post is about 2 years old. Have you or your children seen an increase in oral health? How about your immune system? Have you had any cavities?
    Thanks, Kari

    Reply
  12. Does this product dissolve in your mouth? I can’t have any mint in my mouth as I seem to be allergic to it, but if I swallow something with mint it seems to be ok.
    Thanks!
    Jerri

    Reply
  13. Do your kids get nausea when taking this? My kids refuse it bc it causes nausea every time they take it. How can i minimize the side effect?

    Reply
  14. you may want to find a good functional doctor who can take a culture of her sinuses and of her stool. Either she has bad bacteria in her GI, which often causes bad breath, or there’s a problem in her sinuses. I like the GI Map test for stool. There’s also a test through ubiome. Whatever the test, you’ll need a good doctor who can interpret and order them. I took the gi pay test and Dr Nancy Mullan interpreted them and where my cavities really hurt, the pain keeps disappating by treating my gut

    Reply
  15. Can these oral probiotic tablets you have written about in your main article be crushed up and used to brush teeth, or used in oil pulling? And do you have any idea if that would be effective at repopulating the microbiome as well. I’m trying to squeeze in benefits at every and all points in my oral care to tackle receding gums. The number of species we have in our body is mind boggling and deciding which ones I could use for their oral benefits, not gut, is completely out of my reach! But I’m trying ?

    Reply
  16. I think these can be helpful as a short term “treatment” but you really shouldn’t need to take them every day forever. You can have a perfectly healthy oral microbiome if you simply eat a proper diet. Easier said than done for some, I suppose.

    Reply
  17. Do you have an update on this product since they changed their formulation? Do you still recommend this one or a different one?

    Reply
  18. I see MANY questions going unanswered here. Usually, the unanswered ones are not worth responding to, (repetitive ?’s that are covered in the article) but the ones here should be answered.

    Reply
  19. I actually tried a water pic a few years ago. It was awful! I have sensitive teeth and it actually hurt, and the water went everywhere!
    I do floss all the time, and will swish water and spit after to help remove particles. I use dental floss ( the brands without BHA, which most are made with) and use these teeny tiny brushes between teeth also.
    Since getting T2Diabetes, my dental issues have gotten much worse.

    Reply
  20. 4 stars
    this sounds like a great idea… but all the products you recommend are mint flavored… is there one you recommend that is NOT mint flavored?

    Reply
  21. 5 stars
    Hi there! I’m curious, the link you posted for the light that was $200 instead of $500…. Is that real? I mean obviously I would rather buy the cheap one if it’s actually a good light and going to show up at my door haha 🙂

    Reply
  22. Hi there! I’m curious, the link you posted for the light that was $200 instead of $500…. Is that real? I mean obviously I would rather buy the cheap one if it’s actually a good light and going to show up at my door haha 🙂

    Reply