Home | About us | Editorial board | Ahead of print | Current issue | Archives | Search | Submit article | Instructions | Subscribe | Advertise | Contact us |  Login 
National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery
Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size
Users Online: 603

Table of Contents
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 6-9  

Probiotics and oral health

Department of Periodontics, Faculty of Dental Sciences, C.S.M. Medical University (Erstwhile K. G. Medical College), Lucknow, India

Date of Web Publication10-Oct-2011

Correspondence Address:
Pavitra Rastogi
Department of Periodontics, Faculty of Dental Sciences, C.S.M. Medical University, Lucknow
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0975-5950.85845

Rights and Permissions

Probiotics utilize the naturally occurring bacteria to confer health benefits. Traditionally, probiotics have been associated with gut health, and are being mainly utilized for prevention or treatment of gastrointestinal infections and disease; however, recently, several studies have suggested the use of probiotics for oral health purposes. The aim of this review is to understand the potential mechanism of action of probiotic bacteria in the oral cavity and summarize their observed effects with respect to oral health.

Keywords: Bifidobacterium, lactobacillus, probiotics

How to cite this article:
Rastogi P, Saini H, Dixit J, Singhal R. Probiotics and oral health. Natl J Maxillofac Surg 2011;2:6-9

How to cite this URL:
Rastogi P, Saini H, Dixit J, Singhal R. Probiotics and oral health. Natl J Maxillofac Surg [serial online] 2011 [cited 2023 Jan 29];2:6-9. Available from: https://www.njms.in/text.asp?2011/2/1/6/85845

   Introduction Top

Not all the bacteria are harmful to the human body. In fact, some microbes can have beneficial health effects on the host. Such live microbes are termed as probiotics. The term 'probiotic' was derived from the Greek word meaning "for life". [1] This term was first used in 1965, by Lilly and Stillwell for describing substances secreted by one organism which stimulate the growth of another. [2] An expert panel commissioned by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) defined probiotics as "live micro-organisms", which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host. The bacterial genera most commonly used in probiotic preparations are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium [Table 1].
Table 1: Microorganisms used as probiotics

Click here to view

Probiotics by definition are the non-digestible food ingredient that confers benefits on the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/activity of one bacterium or a group of bacteria in the colon, and thus improve the host health. [3] Oligosaccharides in the group of fructo-oligosaccharides and galactosaccharides are the commonly studied probiotics. They escape digestion in the upper gastrointestinal tract so that they can be released in the lower tract and used by beneficial microorganisms in the colon, mainly bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.

Traditionally, probiotics have been associated with gut health, however, during the last decade, an increasing number of established and proposed health effects of probiotic bacteria have been reported, including enhancement of the adaptive immune response, treatment or prevention of urogenital and respiratory tract infections, and prevention or alleviation of allergies and atopic disease in infants. Recently, their beneficial effects on oral health have been suggested. A few reports have suggested the role of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in the prevention of oral infectious diseases such as caries and periodontal disease. The aim of this review is to discuss the distribution of probiotic bacteria in the oral cavity, their potential mechanism of action and their observed effects in the oral cavity.

   Distribution of Probiotic Bacterial Strains in the Oral Cavity Top

Some probiotic Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus strains seem to be able to colonize in the oral cavity during the time that products containing them are in active use. Salivary and gingival crevicular fluid (GCF) samples are often used to evaluate the microbial composition in the oral cavity. Hojo et al., found L. salivarious, L. gasseri, and L. fermentum to be among the most prevalent species in the mouth, but no significant difference in their number was found between groups of healthy patients and patients with periodontitis. [4] Conversely, the study suggested Bifidobacterium to be associated with periodontal health as their composition varied among these study groups. Nearly similar results regarding Lactobacillus were concluded by Koll-klais et al. [5] Lactobacilli are rarely detected in the subgingival sample and they could not be found in any patients with chronic periodontitis. L. rhamnosus GG and two different L. reuteri strains have been reported to colonize the oral cavity for a short time after their use.

   Potential Mechanism of Probiotic Effects in the Oral Cavity Top

The general mechanism of action of probiotics can be divided into three main categories-

  1. normalization of intestinal microbiota
  2. modulation of the immune response and
  3. metabolic effect

The mechanism of action of probiotic bacteria in the oral cavity could be analogous to that described in the gut. The bacterial biofilm formation in the oral cavity is considered to be the principal etiological agent in many pathological conditions in the mouth. Once oral biofilm reaches maturity a dynamic interplay between the host and microbial species is established. The inflammatory byproducts, along with bacterial endotoxin and metabolic products are mainly responsible for periodontal destruction. Probiotic therapy could be considered as a means of inhibiting oral biofilm development and reducing the cascade of harmful immune-inflammatory reactions [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Various mechanism of action of probiotic bacteria

Click here to view

Though no in-vivo studies have been reported in this area in-vitro studies have claimed the antimicrobial role of probiotics. In-vitro antimicrobial activity of lactobacillus species against oral microbial species including Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans and Porphyromonas gingivalis has been studied. [6]  Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans Scientific Name Search itans were the most susceptible species to lactobacilli under the conditions of this experiment. All the four tested strains of lactobacilli, namely L. rhamnosus 5.1a, L. rhamnosus 5.3a, L. rhamnosus 5.5a and L. rhamnosus Lc705 were found to inhibit all three periodontal pathogens investigated.

To exert their action in the oral cavity, the probiotic microorganism should be able to resist the oral environmental conditions and defense mechanisms, be able to adhere to saliva-coated surface, colonize and grow in the mouth and to inhibit oral pathogens. So there is a need to develop the probiotic strain and species that can resist oral environmental conditions and can bring their antimicrobial action.

   Observed Effects on Periodontal Disease Top

The initial studies of the use of probiotics for enhancing oral health were for the treatment of periodontal inflammation. Lactobacillus reuteri brought about a significant reduction in gingivitis in a study done by Krasse et al. The oral administration of tablet containing L. salivarius WB21 was found to be able to decrease the periodontal index and pocket probing depth (PD) in smokers specifically. Various means of probiotics' administration and their effect are mentioned in [Table 2].
Table 2: Various studies on potential beneficial effects of probiotics on periodontal disease

Click here to view

   Observed Effects on Caries and Caries-Associated Microbes Top

The fact that caries is a bacterially-mediated process has been known for more than 115 years. Currently, the host, bacteria and nutrients are required for fermenting the product of organic acids and the subsequent demineralization activity. According to this model all the three elements must be present to initiate the disease. To overcome the limitation of traditional caries management strategies, the use of probiotics has been tried to treat caries by preventing oral colonization of cariogenic pathogens. Several studies suggest that consumption of products containing lactobacilli or bifidobacteria could reduce the number of Streptococcus mutans in the saliva. In a study by Nase et al., [12] the administration of dairy products containing L. rhamnosus reduced the risk of dental caries and lowered the level of S. mutans in patients after seven months of intake of L. rhamnosus.

Observed effects on oral candida

Only a few studies have reported about the effect of probiotic bacteria on oral candida infection. In a study by Hatakka et al., consumption of cheese containing L. rhamnosus strain GG and LC705 and Propionibacterium freudenreichii ssp. shermanii JS for 16 weeks, reduced the number of high oral yeast counts, but no changes in mucosal lesion were observed.

Observed effects on halitosis

In approximately 90% of the cases of halitosis, the cause is confined to the oral cavity. The probiotic strains in the studies for the treatment of both mouth and gut-associated halitosis are E. coli Nisle 1917, S. salivarius K12, Weissella confusa and lactic acid-forming bacterial mixture.

   Conclusion Top

Several health-promoting effects of probiotics are well documented, but their effect on oral health is not clear. Scientific evidence is poor in this area and their recommendation for oral health purposes is not yet justified. The main hurdle in this is the development of strains which can resist the oral environmental conditions and can stay there long enough to bring effect. Genetic modification of probiotic strains to suit the oral conditions is thus needed. Systematic studies and randomized control trials are therefore needed to find out the best probiotic strains and means of administration in different oral health conditions.

   References Top

1.Reid G, Jass J, Sebulsky MT, McCormick JK. Potential use of probiotics in clinical practice. Clin Micrrobial Rev 2003;16:658-72.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Lilly DM, Stillwell RH. Growth promoting factors produced by antibiotics. Science 1965;147:747-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Gibson GR, Roberfroid MB. Dietry modulation of the human colonic microbiota: Introducing the concept of prebiotics. J Nutr 1995;125:1401-12.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Hojo K, Mizoguchi C, Takemoto N, Oshima T, Gomi K, Arai T, et al. Distribution of salivary lactobacillus and bifidobacterium species in periodontal health and disease. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 2007;71:152-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Koll-Klais P, Mandar R, Leibur E, Marcotte H, Hammarstrom L, Mikelsaar M. Oral lactobacilli in chronic periodontitis and periodontal health: Species composition and antimicrobial activity. Oral Microbial Immunol 2005;20:354-61.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Stamatova I, Kari K, Vladimirov S, Meurman JH. In vitro evaluation of antimicrobial activity of putative probiotic lactobacilli against oral pathogens. Int J Probiotics 2008;2:225-32.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Krasse P, Carlsson B, Dahl C, Paulsson A, Nilsson A, Sinkiewicz G. Decreased gum bleeding and reduced gingivitis by the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri. Swed Dent J 2006;30:55-60.   Back to cited text no. 7
8.Volozhin AI, I1'in VK, Maksimovskii IuM, Sidorwnko AB, Istranov LP, Tsarev VP, et al. Development and use of periodontal dressing of collagen and Lactobacillus casei 37 cell suspension in combined treatment of periodontal disease of inflammatory origin. Stomatologiia (Mosk) 2004;83:6-8.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Grudianov AI, Dimitrieva NA, Fomenko EV. Use of probiotics Bifidumbacterin and Acilact in tablets in therapy of periodontal inflammation. Stomatologiia (Mosk) 2002;81:39-43.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Pozharitskaia MM, Morozova LV, Melnichuk GM, Mel'nichuk SS. The use of the new bacterial biopreperation Acilact in the combined treatment of periodontitis. Stomatologiia (Mosk) 1994;73:17-20.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Riccia DN, Bizzini F, Perilli MG, Polimeni A, Trinchieri V, Amicosante G, et al. Anti-inflammmatory effects of L. brevis (DC2) on periodontal disease. Oral Dis 2007;13:376-85.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Nase L, Hatakka K, Savilahti E, Saxelin M, Pönkä A, Poussa T, et al. Effect of long term consumption of a probiotic bacterium, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, in milk on dental caries and caries risk in children. Caries Res 2001;35:412-20.  Back to cited text no. 12


  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1], [Table 2]

This article has been cited by
1 Selection of Beneficial Bacterial Strains With Potential as Oral Probiotic Candidates
Hamin Kim, Joanna Ivy Irorita Fugaban, Wilhelm Heinrich Holzapfel, Svetoslav Dimitrov Todorov
Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins. 2022;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Effect of Lactobacillus reuteri on Gingival Inflammation and Composition of the Oral Microbiota in Patients Undergoing Treatment with Fixed Orthodontic Appliances: Study Protocol of a Randomized Control Trial
Kevimy Agossa, Marie Dubar, Grégoire Lemaire, Alessandra Blaizot, Céline Catteau, Emmanuël Bocquet, Laurent Nawrocki, Emile Boyer, Vincent Meuric, Florence Siepmann
Pathogens. 2022; 11(2): 112
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Antibacterial activity of viable and heat-killed probiotic strains against oral pathogens
Y.-T. Chen,P.-S. Hsieh,H.-H. Ho,S.-H. Hsieh,Y.-W. Kuo,S.-F. Yang,C.-W. Lin
Letters in Applied Microbiology. 2020; 70(4): 310
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Lactobacillus brevis CD2 attenuates traumatic oral lesions induced by fixed orthodontic appliance: A randomized phase 2 trial
Nathália Louize Nunes Vieira Silva,Alvaro Della Bona,Moisés Cardoso,Sidia Maria Callegari-Jacques,Fernando Fornari
Orthodontics & Craniofacial Research. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Removal of Staphylococcus aureus from skin using a combination antibiofilm approach
Yi Wang,Xiaojuan Tan,Chuanwu Xi,K. Scott Phillips
npj Biofilms and Microbiomes. 2018; 4(1)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
6 The implication of probiotics in the prevention of dental caries
Tzu-Hsing Lin,Chih-Hui Lin,Tzu-Ming Pan
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. 2017;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
7 Probiotics - the versatile functional food ingredients
Gareth Gordon Syngai,Ragupathi Gopi,Rupjyoti Bharali,Sudip Dey,G. M. Alagu Lakshmanan,Giasuddin Ahmed
Journal of Food Science and Technology. 2015;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
8 Ultrastructural Morphologic Changes in Mycobacterial Biofilm in Different Extreme Condition
Virendra Kumar,Tarun Kumar Sachan,Pragya Sharma,Krishna Dutta Rawat
Ultrastructural Pathology. 2014; : 1
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
9 Probiotics, Prebiotics and Synbiotics as Functional Food Ingredients: Production, Health Benefits and Safety
Solomon Tadesse
Journal of Biologically Active Products from Nature. 2012; 2(3): 124
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
    Distribution of ...
    Potential Mechan...
    Observed Effects...
    Observed Effects...
    Article Figures
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded1070    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 9    

Recommend this journal