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Could brushing with "biotics" help our health?

Posted at 5:03 PM, Jul 13, 2018

From superfoods, prebiotics and probiotics, we all know we’ve got to go with our gut when it comes to staying healthy. Now, there are pre and probiotic oral health products, too, like toothpaste. 

Caty Cole wanted to try one, so she just started whipping up homemade “probiotic toothpaste”  from “do it yourself” recipe online. 

“I really, really like it. It doesn't feel like such an assault on my mouth as regular toothpaste,” Cole says. 

And it’s not only “D-I-Y, in stores, and online: We found pre and probiotic toothpastes, rinses and tablets for sale. All part of the cosmetic dentistry market expected to reach more than $22-million by 2020.

Mark Burhenne, DDS, who is the founder of “Ask The Dentist,” is already seeing a ‘biotic’ product push. 

“I'm getting bombarded with literature about pre and probiotic toothpaste and mouth washes,” Dr. Burhenne says. 

Some of the products claim the beneficial bacteria can help your mouth, teeth and gums. And considering healthy adults swallow about 1000 to 1500 times day, Dr. Burhenne says some of the bacteria in our mouth goes into our gut.  

“What happens in the mouth happens in the body. There’s this oral systemic connection that I think dentistry is just waking up to,” Dr. Burhenne tells us. 

While some preliminary studies so far seem promising, the consensus is—more research needs to be done. Dr Burhenne says we may think mouth bacteria is bad, even gross, but it’s actually important to balance the bacteria, not wipe it out, and probiotics could help.

“You have to nourish the mouth not kill it, kill it down, you know, blow it up, explode it, disinfect it. That's been the wrong approach,” he says. 

The doctor recommends a healthy diet with probiotic-rich foods as the best way to find that bacterial balance.

As for the biotic oral products: He says while the science is not yet conclusive, trying one can’t hurt and the idea makes sense. He explains, “We know that if you can keep the oral microbiome in good shape that's going to help downstream in the gut.”

Caty says she’s plans to keep brushing with “D-I-Y” toothpaste. “It's very pleasant. It's not like something have to grit your teeth through,” she says.

The American Dental Association didn’t have an expert to speak to us about this topic but recommends any toothpaste you use contains fluoride.