As concerns continue to grow around antibiotic-resistant bacteria, there’s an increasing need to find other ways to combat bacterial pathogens. An analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology suggests that probiotics may aid in the treatment of chronic periodontitis—inflammation of the tissues that surround and support the teeth (including the gums), and possibly help people with periodontitis avoid antibiotics. For this analysis, the researchers included data from three studies that looked at the influence of probiotics on the effects of scaling and root planing (SRP)—a standard deep-cleaning technique used by dental practitioners for preventing the progression of periodontitis. SRP involves removing plaque and tartar from tooth surfaces above and below the gum line and smoothing the surfaces of the tooth roots. The studies compared the effectiveness of SRP plus probiotics with SRP alone. After combining the results from these three studies, here is what the researchers determined:

  • People who received SRP plus probiotics had greater improvements in two markers of periodontitis—clinical attachment level (a measure of the position of the periodontal structures that support the tooth and an indirect measure of tooth stability) and bleeding upon probing—compared with those who received SRP alone.
  • People who received SRP plus probiotics experienced a non-statistically significant improvement in overall pocket depth (the depth of the spaces between the teeth and gums), another marker of periodontitis severity; however, when only moderate and deep pockets were considered, the difference in improvement between those who received probiotics and those who didn’t was statistically significant.

These findings indicate probiotics could support the treatment of periodontitis, which affects 70 to 90% of people between the ages of 60 and 74. Improving the effectiveness of SRP through the use of probiotics may reduce the need for antibiotics, as antibiotic mouthwashes and oral antibiotics are frequently used to treat advanced periodontitis. Since previous research has established that probiotics support digestive health, it seems these friendly bacteria may play an important role in health maintenance from gums to gut.

Source: Journal of Clinical Periodontology

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