Everyone wants to have a beautiful smile: it’s one of the most prized qualities in every culture. White, healthy teeth and fresh breath imbue you with confidence, and those who smile more are seen as friendlier and more approachable than those who refuse to show their teeth. As such, many of us value our smiles and will do anything to keep them sparkling.
You already know about the importance of brushing twice a day to remove plaque and scrape away food debris – now it’s time to take it a bit further by considering oral probiotics, another arsenal in your quest for an amazing smile. Let’s explore the world of oral probiotics and see what they can do to keep you looking your best.
Your Mouth Is Home to Its Own Community of Bacteria
You likely know by now that your body is home to an enormous ecosystem of bacteria; humans have symbiotic partnerships with many different species of microorganisms, from the lactobacillus that help us digest food to the cutibacterium that live on our skin and thrive on our natural oils. This diversity is present in our mouths, too.
A little-discussed component of oral health is your mouth’s microbiome: the “good” bacteria that eliminate bad breath and protect your enamel. Your mouth has a variety of different “habitats,” such as on the teeth, cheeks, and throat, and they are each home to hundreds of species. All of these bacteria are specialized for a particular area of the mouth, just as you have different concentrations of bacteria on different parts of the skin or in different areas of the stomach. Over time, they have evolved to benefit us as well; in fact, some of them actually start the digestion process before food even reaches your stomach! The enzymes in your saliva, as well as the activity of these microbes, make it easier for you to get the best benefit from your well-balanced diet.
Part of your overall well-being is having the right amount of good bacteria in each part of your body, including in the mouth; however, everyday living can be difficult on these species, especially if you have a poor diet or smoke. Regular toothpaste and mouthwashes also kill bacteria and funguses indiscriminately, which can allow overgrowths of bacteria that cause bad breath, create inflammation in your gums, and eat at your enamel.
Oral Probiotics Encourage the Right Balance of Oral Bacteria
One of the reasons that people take probiotic pills or eat fermented foods like sauerkraut and kefir is because they want to nourish the healthy gut flora that reduces indigestion and ensures regular bowel function, but they often fail to consider how to protect and support the bacteria in their mouth. They may believe that just using store-brand toothpaste or mouthwash is enough to keep everything in good shape, not realizing that these same products also kill the good bacteria along with the harmful species. It would be similar to using alcohol-based facial cream every day in hopes of removing bad bacteria, which would dry out the skin and lead to further issues.
Oral probiotics, used in conjunction with specially formulated toothpaste, encourage good bacteria by providing them with the nutrients they need to thrive. When good bacteria abound, there’s less room in your oral microbiome for the bad bacteria: they are outcompeted by those species that are meant to be there, which have a healthy population that can stave off intruders. This, in turn, helps you have strong teeth and fresh-smelling teeth, free of the odor-causing bacteria that would otherwise colonize your mouth when introduced by everyday food and drink.
How to Use Oral Probiotics
Oral probiotics should be taken at night, as this is when you’re not eating and drinking anything that would wash away the nutrients; this is also the time when your body rests and regenerates itself, including the bacteria that make up your oral ecosystem.
After brushing your teeth to remove plaque buildup, place the probiotic in your mouth and gently move it around your mouth with your tongue. Don’t swallow it: the tablet should dissolve in your mouth, as it doesn’t necessarily help the species that live in your digestive tract. You shouldn’t eat or drink anything for at least half an hour afterward; this is why it’s best to take this supplement right before bed.
Our body’s microbial system is closely connected with our overall well-being, and our oral microbiome is no different. To nourish and support these bacteria – not to mention enjoy fresher breath and a more beautiful smile – consider using oral probiotics in addition with your everyday oral hygiene practices.