Probiotics are living microorganisms that confer a health benefit to the host.  Recently oral probiotics have been introduced  to prevent cavities.  One of the main culprits in cavity formation is a strain of bacteria, Strep Mutans.  Evidence has shown that oral probiotics help stimulate the immune response, modulate inflammation and compete with oral bacteria for nutrients and binding sites on the teeth.  The probiotics are designed to be dissolved in the mouth to compete with the common oral microflora.  Three studies from Europe have proven that oral probiotics are helpful in preventing cavities.

While there are many ways to minimize cavities, oral probiotics may be useful for those who seem to be very prone to dental cavities.

SSRI’s (the most commonly prescribed anti-depressants) may be associated with an increased risk of failure of dental implants, according to the Journal of Dental Research.  Over a 67 month period from 2007-2013, the study looked at those patients who had dental implants and compared the success rate of those on SSRI’s and those not on anti-depressants.  Those not taking the anti-depressants had a failure rate of 4.7% vs. 10.6% for those on SSRI’s.

The New York Times (5/29, Saint Louis) “Well” blog considered the question of whether to floss before or after brushing the teeth. Although “flossing first isn’t necessarily better for oral health than the other way around” ADA spokesman and professor of restorative dentistry at UCLA Dr. Edmond R. Hewlett “recommends flossing first” because that way you “get the unpleasant task out of the way to avoid the temptation to not do it,” as the Times put it. The Times went on to point out that flossing is less important for cavity reduction than it is as a method of maintaining proper gum health. Said Dr. Hewlett, “Gingivitis is the first step in losing your teeth,” adding, “The nice thing about catching inflammation when gums are bleeding is you can reverse it then, if that’s all that’s going on,” with proper flossing and brushing.

Drawing on the New York Times coverage, the Today Show Online (6/1) reported that “one spokesman for the American Dental Association told the Times…that it’s preferable to floss first” because “people will be less likely to skip flossing than if they wait until after brushing.” Additionally, the Today Show reported that as long as patients floss “at least once every day, you’re going to minimize the nasty bacteria clinging to your teeth, says Matthew J. Messina an American Dental Association spokesperson and private practice dentist in Cleveland.”