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Prebiotics and the Oral Microbiome

November 2020 / DENTISTRY

A prebiotic modulates the composition of a microbiome. A prebiotic often refers to components affecting and controlling the gut microbiome, but this ignores other microbiomes in the body – specifically the oral microbiome. Certain compounds can stimulate the growth of bacteria associated with oral health. In the mouth, succinic acid, Met-Pro and other compounds increase the proportion of good species and lower the proportion of pathogenic (gum disease and cavity causing) species. However, these prebiotics are not typically found in food. Xylitol (a sugar alcohol) and arabinose can be found in food and stimulate the growth of lactobacilli bacteria which inhibit step mutans bacteria and porphyromonas gingivalis bacteria which are strongly associated with cavities and gum disease. The prebiotic must remain in the mouth for a period of time. Therefore, chewing 2 tabs of xylitol gum after breakfast, lunch and dinner can help prevent cavities. But more is not better as sugar alcohols can create bloating, gas and diarrhea.

Oral pathogens-specifically p. gingivalis- found commonly in patients with gum disease can be swallowed and create an imbalance in the gut. Gut dysbiosis is an area of tremendous.

current scientific research and is often seen in individuals with chronic inflammatory conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Prebiotics (mainly soluble fibre) administration has been found to improve signs and symptoms of these inflammatory conditions.

Studies also have shown gum disease negatively shifts the gut microbiome by making it less diverse. Currently, studies are underway to figure out if positively shifting our gut microbiome improves gum disease.

Also, prebiotics (mainly fibrous foods) may indirectly decrease the incidence of periodontal disease by decreasing obesity, diabetes and chronic inflammation which are established risk factors for gum disease.

So eat a minimum of six servings of high fibre foods daily- oatmeal, chia seeds, broccoli, almonds, quinoa are all excellent sources of the recommended daily 24g of soluble fibre.

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