The great thing about probiotics is how versatile the beneficial bacterial can be at treat health conditions unrelated to your gut. Recent studies have shown how probiotics treat common tooth-related problems like gum disease and help tooth decay.
Researchers in Sweden and Denmark have found success in treating thrush (oral candidiasis), a condition experienced by nursing home residents, with a probiotic lozenge containing Lactobacillus reuteri, according to a study published in the Journal of Dental Research.
Thrush is a pesky health problem that occurs when the fungus Candida albicans accumulates in large quantities in the mucous membranes of the mouth, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Learn more about thrush
Although Candida albicans lives naturally in the mouth, the fungus becomes a problem when it grows out of control, creating white lesions on the tongue or inner cheeks, which can spread further to the gums, tonsils, the roof of your mouth and into the throat.
If you’re in good health, thrush isn’t a serious health condition to treat and it can happen to anyone. Thrush occurs most often among the elderly, babies, toddlers and their moms.
Thrush can become harder to control if your immune system is compromised by health problems, including uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, HIV, hormonal changes experienced by pregnant women, if you wear dentures or smoke.
Taking some medications can mess up the balance of bacteria in your mouth such as birth control pills, corticosteroids and antibiotics may trigger thrush too.
Treating thrush with probiotics
Typically, doctors treat thrush by prescribing antifungal medications for 10-14 days. For this latest study, 215 seniors living in nursing homes were given probiotic lozenges containing either two proprietary blends of Lactobacillus reuteri or a placebo, every day for 12 weeks.
Although there were no great differences between either group in levels of supragingival plaque (the tooth surface above the gum line) or bleeding, Candida levels dropped in saliva and plaque by more than 50 percent in the group taking probiotics.
Among the complementary and alternative therapies listed by the University of Maryland Medical Center for thrush, probiotics containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium topped the list, especially when taking antibiotics that may eliminate the friendly bacteria that prevent thrush from becoming a health problem.
Both Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium are some of the proprietary strains in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, EndoMune Junior and EndoMune Jr. Chewable Probiotic for Kids (for kids ages 3-8).
How to prevent oral thrush
Preventing oral thrush is pretty simple, if you follow these simple steps.
- Visit your dentist for regular checkups.
- Don’t smoke and quit if you still do.
- Practice good oral hygiene (daily flossing and tooth brushing).
- Avoid using mouthwashes or sprays too often as they can also disrupt the safe balance of microbes in your mouth.
- Limit your intake of foods containing processed sugars and yeast.