Are Probiotics The Answer To Preventing Cavities?

probioticsWhen I think about cavities, I think of a child eating way too many sugary sweets and then dragging their heels when it comes time to teeth brushing.

As it turns out, adults may be just as bad but we have a knack for composing ourselves a little better. :)

From 2011 to 2012, 91% of adults from 20-64 years old were affected by caries or dental cavities.

That’s a ton!

It’s true that sugary drinks and foods can definitely make matters worse, along with poor oral hygiene and avoiding the dentist at all costs.

Too much acid in the mouth can also lead to cavities.

So it’s important for pH levels to be neutral in order for the mouth to stay in tip top shape.

When there’s acid present in the mouth, it causes bacteria to make even more acid on the teeth.

All this acid can dissolve the teeth (not good!).

In order to figure out what leads to high pH levels, researchers at the University of Florida College of Dentistry, directed by Robert Burne, PhD and Marcelle Nascimento, PhD, began to study the matter.

What they found was a good bacteria strain that seemed to keep the bad bacteria in check, which would lead to the potential for preventing cavities with probiotics.

Keeping Mouth pH In Check 

The researchers also discovered that 2 key compounds, urea and arginine, are broken down into ammonia, which helps balance the pH level.

Urea is naturally secreted within the mouth and arginine is an amino acid.

It was known that those who had little or no cavities were better able to break down arginine than people with cavities.

The researchers knew that bacteria played a role in breaking these compounds down but didn’t know which one did it best or how it eventually lead to cavity prevention.

What came of the research was a formerly unidentified strain of Streptococcus, which is now being referred to as A12.

For this particular study, they collected various samples of dental plaque (yuck).

With the samples, they then screened over 2,000 bacteria in order to find the right one.

They found that A12 was best at metabolizing arginine and helped stabilize acid.

So A12 was the bacteria that had all the proper qualities needed to prevent cavities with probiotics.

Using Friendly Bacteria To Ward Off The Bad

The researchers also found that A12 was able to kill off a particularly bad bacteria strain called Streptococcus mutans. 

This harmful strain turns sugar into lactic acid, which then leads to a more acidic environment that welcomes cavities.

In instances when A12 didn’t kill off S. mutans completely, it still hindered it enough to keep it from causing disease.

The researchers also found that when S. mutans and A12 were grown together that it lowered the ability of dental plaque to develop.

In Conclusion… 

The researchers want to perform a bigger study in the future to help further their knowledge and understanding of A12.

There is still much to learn and research, but A12 is a strong contender for helping prevent cavities.

This would be yet another way that probiotics may help keep our bodies healthy.

If you want to experience the benefits of probiotics, check out our 10 best probiotic supplements and find the perfect one for you!


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About the Author

About the Author: Kate Watson is the Lead Researcher and Founder of Kate started this site after successfully using probiotics to treat some digestive issues she'd had since childhood. In her free time Kate loves nothing more than a good book (and a good glass of wine).