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Probiotic Lactobacillus paracasei shows oral health benefits: Study

By Stephen Daniells , 02-Sep-2014
Last updated on 02-Sep-2014 at 16:27 GMT2014-09-02T16:27:09Z

The bacterial strain Lactobacillus paracasei subsp. paracasei NTU 101 may protect against caries by reducing oral levels of Streptococcus mutans, the main bacteria associated with tooth decay, suggest data from a study with rats.

Scientists from the National Taiwan University report that L. paracasei subsp. paracasei NTU 101 and a fermented soy milk inoculated with the strain were effected in suppressing the formation of dental caries in lab animals.

“The reduction of caries score in S. mutans-colonized rats is associated with application of L. paracasei subsp. paracasei NTU 101 and fermented soy skim milk,” they wrote in the Journal of Functional Foods . “It clearly mitigates S. mutans counts, lesion formation, and penetration into the teeth.”

Growing science, but still early…

As reported in a special edition last year by NutraIngredients-USA , there are several different avenues for researchers to explore for probiotics to beneficially impact oral health, ranging from reducing dental plaque-related diseases, such as caries, gingivitis and periodontitis, or even reducing bad breath (halitosis).

Much of the research into the oral health benefits of probiotics has focused on Streptococcus mutans, the main bacteria associated with tooth decay. S. mutans binds to teeth via aggregation forming dental plaque. The bacteria then convert sugar to acid, which attacks the enamel of the teeth.

A recent review of 23 randomized clinical trials for probiotics and oral health in Nutrients (Vol. 5, pp. 2530-2550) concluded: “The use of probiotic strains for caries prevention showed promising results even if only few studies have demonstrated clear clinical outcomes.

“Therefore, the scientific evidence is still poor.”

S. mutans

Much of the concept of probiotics for oral health centers on Streptococcus mutans, which is said to bind to teeth via aggregation forming dental plaque. The bacteria then convert sugar to acid, which attacks the enamel of the teeth.

The new study used lab rats exposed to S. mutans to promote caries, and then divided into different groups. Results showed that the animals assigned to groups that received L. paracasei subsp. paracasei NTU 101 or a fermented soy milk had significantly reduced oral S. mutans counts during a 64 day period, compared with animals in the control group.

“The results revealed that the application of NTU 101 and NTU 101 soy milk inhibited S. mutans colonization and reduced the bacterial levels on the teeth,” wrote the researchers. “NTU 101 has potential for use in the prevention of tooth decay in rats. These promising results suggest a potentially beneficial application of probiotics for the prevention of dental caries.”

Source: Journal of Functional Foods
September 2014, Volume 10, Pages 223-231, doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2014.06.015
“Inhibitory effect of Lactobacillus paracasei subsp. paracasei NTU 101 on rat dental caries”
Authors: T-H. Lin, T-M. Pan

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