Prebiotics and Probiotics for Oral Health
The lining of your gut, like the other surfaces of your body, is covered in bacteria. These bacteria create a micro-ecosystem known as the gut microbiome. It plays a major role in your overall health—including your dental health.
As the saying goes, you are what you eat—and what you feed your microbiome can significantly impact your health. There are two ways to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your microbiome: adding “good” bacteria to your system with probiotics and promoting the growth of “good” bacteria with prebiotics.
Although prebiotics and probiotics vary in function, they both show substantial benefits to dental health. From reducing dental plaque to lowering your risk of periodontal disease, here’s why you should add both to your diet.
What’s the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?
While probiotics are living microorganisms that are introduced into the human body, prebiotics are not alive.
In most cases, probiotics are the same microorganisms that live naturally in the human digestive tract. Although different strains of probiotics play different roles, probiotics help send food through your digestive system by affecting the nerves that control gut movement. Probiotics generally come from two groups: Lactobacillus, which is found in fermented foods, and Bifidobacterium, which is found in dairy products.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are dietary substances that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in our bodies. Prebiotics help existing “good” bacteria within the human body thrive while establishing a healthy balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria.
By resisting hydrolytic activity in the upper gastrointestinal tract, prebiotics reach the colon intact, allowing them to stimulate the growth of beneficial microflora. In turn, oral prebiotics confer numerous health effects, including a healthier digestive system.
Health Benefits of Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics each have proven health benefits on their own. Although you don’t need to take them together to reap their benefits, research shows that the two can be even more effective when working simultaneously.
Taken alone, probiotics have wide-ranging benefits, from keeping your heart healthy and reducing the severity of certain allergies to boosting immune system health. Meanwhile, prebiotics can help improve metabolic health, lower cholesterol, and improve the absorption of vital minerals like calcium and magnesium.
Both supplements have also demonstrated the ability to neutralize pH (aiding in cavity prevention), decrease inflammation, reduce dental plaque, and balance microbiota.
Though research on the dental health benefits of oral prebiotics is ongoing, prebiotics may help improve oral health indirectly by altering the gut microbiome. For example, pathogens related to periodontal disease often lead to imbalances in the gut microbiome. Oral prebiotics may help restore this balance, which can help reduce the likelihood of it.
How can I increase my intake of prebiotics?
With natural probiotic supplements, increasing your intake is easier than ever—but what about prebiotics? Because many prebiotics are also dietary fibers, increasing your intake can also help you reach your daily recommended fiber intake.
In the United States, the daily recommended fiber intake is between 25–30 g, according to The American Heart Association Eating Plan. The average fiber intake is roughly half the recommended value. Here are some foods that can help you increase your fiber intake and reap the health benefits of prebiotics:
- 1 serving of oatmeal (4 g of fiber)
- 1 cup of quinoa (6 g of fiber)
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds (5 g of fiber)
- 1 cup of raspberries (8 g of fiber)
- ½ cup of squash (4 g of fiber)
Natural, Non-Toxic Oral Care Products
Keeping your gut microbiome balanced is integral to your overall health. From eating prebiotic- and probiotic-rich foods to taking supplements, there are plenty of preventive-focused methods to help you maintain a healthy smile.
At Terra & Co., our sustainable oral care products provide natural, non-toxic options to help you take care of your teeth and gums. Join the sustainable luxury movement today with eco-friendly, effective products that are good for you and good for Planet Earth.