Defying cavities

You probably already know that bad bacteria cause tooth decay. (More specifically, Streptococcus mutans–the bug behind bad breath, plaque, and gum disease.)

But here’s something I’m guessing you haven’t heard: Good bacteria may be a key to cavity prevention. Let me explain…

A group of Italian researchers recently performed a systematic review of 23 randomized clinical trials. The goal: to see what role probiotics might play in reducing the risk of dental caries–better known as cavities.

These studies looked at a wide range of friendly flora–including Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, L. acidophilus, L. reuteri, and Saccharomyces cereviasae. And 2/3 of them found that probiotics were able to reduce levels of Streptococcus mutans in saliva–and put the brakes on plaque formation–in the short term.

But there is a small caveat. The study authors note that you’d have to get regular doses of good bacteria–on top of brushing and flossing–to benefit from any additional protection.

So keep your toothbrush and toothpaste handy. And take a good probiotic–I like Dr. Ohhira’s–every single day.

“The use of probiotic strains in caries prevention: A systematic review.” Nutrients. 2013 Jul 5;5(7):2530-50.