Probiotic gum is a chewing gum that is said to prevent tooth decay. The gum, first developed by a German chemical company, contains probiotics. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that are said to help prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to the teeth and causing damage.
The scientists involved in developing probiotic gum assert that the gum is effective against Streptococcus mutans bacteria that aggressively attack tooth enamel. Streptococcus mutans lives on the surface of the teeth, converting sugar into lactic acid. The lactic acid eats away at tooth enamel and dentin, leading to a breakdown of the tooth material and decay.
Probiotic gum contains Lactobacillus anti-caries bacteria that, according to its developers, have the ability to cause Streptococcus mutans to clump together. This renders them far less capable of sticking to the teeth and causing decay. Scientists are also working on the development of toothpastes and mouthwashes containing Lactobacillus anti-caries.
According to experts in dental care, there are billions of people dealing with tooth decay. To prevent and fight tooth decay, dentists recommend regular brushing, flossing, and semi-annual dental visits. Though probiotic gum may help to prevent tooth decay, it is not intended to replace or eliminate the need for dental visits, brushing, and flossing. Instead, probiotic gum can be described as supplemental help in the fight against tooth decay.
It is important to note that probiotic gum is aimed at fighting only one type of bacteria. By contrast, regular tooth brushing works to remove plaque from the teeth. Plaque contains a variety of bacteria that contribute to gum disease and halitosis, not just Streptococcus mutans.
While it may be true that probiotic gum is not an adequate substitute for brushing, flossing, and seeing a dentist, it is also devoid of the risks attributed to fluoride in toothpaste and other dental-care products. Fluoride has been associated with a number of health problems, including brain damage. So far, probiotic gum carries no such risk.
The developers of probiotic gum have tested their product on a large number of people and found it effective at reducing Streptococcus mutans. According to experts, the gum may also help to decrease gum bleeding and fight gingivitis. In time, more information may be learned about probiotic gum and related products. Until then, it may be wise to consider the gum a potentially beneficial part of a tooth-care regimen.