Probiotics improve periodontal health in adolescents

Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species of probiotics have been widely studied to support immune, digestive and overall health

One previous study evaluated a combination of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Bifidobacterium lactis strain BB-12 in Finnish dental students and found that it improved their gingival health.

A second study aimed to evaluate the effect of L. rhamnosus and B. lactis on oral health in adolescent boys in Norway.

This randomised, placebo-controlled trial included 101 boys, aged 13 to 15 years. The boys were randomly assigned to take probiotic lozenges or a placebo for 4 weeks.

Each test lozenge contained L. rhamnosus (4.4 x 108 CFUs) plus B. lactis (4.8 x 108 CFUs) and was dosed twice a day.

Lozenges were sweetened with 50% xylitol (not enough deemed to affect oral health) and 46% sorbitol. The primary outcome measure was gingival index, and the secondary outcome was plaque index.

In addition, four species of periodontal pathogenic bacteria were evaluated.

Most boys in both groups showed mild to moderate gingival inflammation and fair to poor oral hygiene at baseline.

After 4 weeks, gingival index improved in both groups, but the improvement was significantly more in the probiotic group (p=0.012). Plaque index also improved in both groups, with no significant difference between groups.

Probiotic lozenges significantly reduced levels of Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans and Fusobacterium nucleatum in saliva and plaque and levels of Porphyromonas gingivalis in plaque. No significant changes in periodontal bacteria were noted in the control group.

This was the first randomised controlled clinical trial to evaluate the combination of L. rhamnosus and B. lactis on periodontal health in adolescents.

In 4 weeks of supplementation, these probiotics improved gingival health and decreased levels of pathogenic bacteria in saliva and plaque.

The authors conclude that probiotics may be a simple way to support oral health in adolescents.