Bad breath is a common, though embarrassing problem. Bad breath is caused by the bacteria in your mouth. If you suffer from bad breath, you may be seeking solutions that can help. Could probiotics help with bad breath? In this article, we'll dive into what causes bad breath, how probiotics could help, and other strategies to address bad breath.
More than half of the adult population experiences bad breath.
Many dental products simply mask bad breath without addressing the true cause.
Ninety percent of bad breath comes from sulfur-producing bacteria hiding in the mouth.
Oral probiotics work with the natural bacteria in your mouth to help reduce odor-causing bacteria and restore the natural oral microbiome.
What is bad breath?
The medical term for bad breath is halitosis or malodor. More than 50% of the population experiences bad breath. It can be quite embarrassing and negatively affect a person’s social life. It’s no wonder there are so many products available for bad breath.
From breath mints and gum to mouth sprays and many more, most of these products simply mask the problem. Therefore, it's important to treat the cause of halitosis to keep it from returning.
How to treat bad breath
The first step in treating bad breath is determining the cause. Halitosis can be caused by factors in or outside of your mouth. Here are some causes of bad breath:
- Dental issues
- Oral issues
- Throat infections
- Tonsil stones
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Respiratory diseases
- Diet and medications
Most bad breath is caused by factors within the mount. In fact, about 90% of bad breath comes from sulfur-producing bacteria hiding in the mouth. There are over 500 types of bacteria that naturally live in the mouth. Many of these bacteria are found between teeth, deep under the gums, and on the back of the tongue.
These bacteria break down food and other substances to produce odorous volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). In many cases, simply removing the odor-causing bacteria with good oral hygiene practices can help treat bad breath and restore the mouth's health. However, this may not be enough to prevent it from returning.
Do probiotics help with bad breath?
Since bad breath is commonly caused by bacteria, oral probiotics may help. Dental probiotics use specific strains of bacteria proven to help support and improve oral health. Oral probiotics work with the natural bacteria in your mouth to help reduce problematic bacteria and balance the natural oral microbiome.
Many oral conditions can cause an imbalance of oral flora, including dry mouth, cavities, and periodontal diseases. Dental probiotics help restore the normal flora in the mouth. The beneficial bacteria in the mouth actively kill the harmful bacteria, which helps reduce the odor-causing bacteria.
How to use probiotics for bad breath
Oral probiotics come in different forms like mints, gum, liquid drops, or mouth rinses. The probiotic bacteria needs to stay in the mouth for it to be most useful. Although each product has specific instructions, here are a few steps to ensure you get the most from your dental probiotic.
- Brush, rinse, and floss first. Oral hygiene is important in fighting halitosis. Many dental products contain antibacterial agents that kill both good and bad bacteria. Therefore, make sure to take your probiotic after your normal dental cleaning routine.
- Keep the probiotic solution in your mouth. Most products recommend keeping the solution in your mouth for at least one minute before swallowing or spitting it out. This allows the beneficial strains to become established in your mouth.
- Avoid eating and drinking. It takes time for the beneficial bacteria to populate all the areas in your mouth. Avoid eating and drinking for at least 30 minutes after taking the probiotic.
Benefits of oral probiotics
Some oral conditions make bad breath worse. Dental probiotics provide oral health benefits that make treating and preventing bad breath easier. Here are some benefits of probiotics that directly affect bad breath:
- Help stimulate saliva. A dry mouth can encourage harmful bacteria to overgrow. This increases the risk of cavities, periodontal issues, and bad breath. Probiotics help stimulate saliva flow and reduce the risk of dental issues and halitosis.
- Reduce "bad" bacteria. Sulfur-producing bacteria on the tongue can be hard to clean. Bacteria often settle into the hard-to-reach areas at the back of the tongue and cause bad breath. Probiotics help repopulate the mouth with beneficial bacteria and prevent “bad” bacteria from finding a hiding place.
- Prevent oral infections like thrush. Thrush is caused by yeast overgrowth in the mouth. Halitosis is common when there is a disturbance in the normal oral flora. Therefore, dental probiotics help restore the balance between good and bad bacteria.
- Inhibit plaque production. Bad breath is often caused by poor oral hygiene. While dental probiotics do not replace normal brushing and flossing, they can help prevent the “bad” bacteria from overgrowing. This helps prevent other bacteria-related issues like cavities, periodontal diseases, and bad breath.
Choosing an oral probiotic
Dental probiotics help restore the balance of natural bacteria in the mouth. Probiotics provide live strains of bacteria that are beneficial to your oral health. Therefore, choosing the right probiotic is crucial. Here are some things to consider when choosing oral probiotic for bad breath:
- Choose the right strain of beneficial bacteria. Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, and Weissella are considered the most useful strains in probiotics for bad breath.
- Check the label. There are many types of oral probiotics available, and they are not all created equal. Therefore, read the label to determine the types and concentrations of probiotic strains in each dose. Choose a product that has proven strains in large enough doses to get the most benefits.
- Choose a reputable brand. Choose a well-known brand to endure the best quality possible for live probiotics.
- Check the reviews. Whenever possible, read reviews from previous customers. This can help you judge the effectiveness of the probiotic and see if others have had any potential side effects.
- Type of product. Dental probiotics are available in chewable mints, oral sprays, mouth rinses, liquid drops, and even powders. Choose one that fits your needs.
When probiotics aren’t enough
Probiotics alone aren’t enough to treat bad breath. Maintaining a good oral hygiene routine is important. Be sure to incorporate things like:
Brushing your teeth twice daily
- Flossing once daily
- Using a water flosser regularly
- Using a tongue scraper
- Regular dental check-ups
If you have bad breath that doesn’t improve with probiotics and good home care, the cause may not be related to your oral health. Some medical conditions can cause bad breath. Things like lifestyle changes, medications, or diet changes may be needed.
Bad breath is something no one wants, and an imbalance in the bacteria naturally present in your mouth could be to blame. Therefore, consider adding a dental probiotic to help improve your oral health by restoring the balance between good and bad bacteria in your mouth. Your mouth may thank you.
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- Japanese Dental Science Review. Oral malodorous compounds are periodontally pathogenic and carcinogenic.
- Phosphorus, Sulfur, and Silicon and the Related Elements Journal. Volatile Sulfur Compounds as The Cause of Bad Breath: A Review.
- BMJ Open. Efficacy of probiotics in the management of halitosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
- European Journal of Dentistry. Probiotics and Oral Health.
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- New Microbes and New Infections Journal. Alleviation of halitosis by use of probiotics and their protective mechanisms in the oral cavity.