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Prebiotics & Probiotics: Treating Disease Naturally

  • February 18, 2015

Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

It can be argued that a great deal of the food produced today doesn’t contribute to good health. Take a look at this list of 10 banned foods that Americans should stop eating.

However, there is a movement afoot to return to more natural ways of addressing disease and improving overall health.

Williamsport and Collegeville periodontist Dr. David DiGiallorenzo promotes a holistic approach to treating periodontal disease that incorporates homeopathic care and nutritional therapy. This includes the use of prebiotics and probiotics, which is a natural, noninvasive approach to treating disease.

Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers that beneficially nourish the good bacteria already present in your large bowel or colon. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your digestive system. The two work together because prebiotics enable probiotic bacteria to help digest food and boost immunity.

If prebiotics and probiotics are good for your digestive system, what does that have to do with how we treat your periodontal disease? A lot. Probiotics in your mouth are beneficial to your oral health because they replace existing disease-causing bacteria with harmless bacteria.

The way we treat periodontal disease has shifted over the past few years toward an antibiotic/antimicrobial approach to managing the disease. This is out of necessity, because patients are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. That has made probiotics an encouraging area of research in terms of periodontal therapy.

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

The most common reason people get periodontal disease is failure to practice proper oral hygiene. Plaque that remains on your teeth for more than a couple of days can harden beneath your gum line to form calculus. This causes inflammation in your gums. If left untreated, the inflammation leads to pockets forming between your gums and teeth. The pockets fill with plaque, tartar and bacteria, which leads to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can cause you to lose your teeth.

Treating Periodontal Disease with Prebiotics and Probiotics

When we treat periodontal disease, we work to eliminate the bacteria that cause the disease, and we attempt to suppress your body’s destructive response to the disease. Studies have shown that patients who were at high risk of periodontal disease – including smokers – and took probiotics for eight weeks experienced a reduction in plaque and periodontal pocket depth.

Our mouths are filled with beneficial and harmful bacteria. The goal is to allow the good to outweigh the bad.

We prescribe a blend of probiotics in pill form to patients because they support periodontal and dental health by accelerating the repopulation of beneficial bacteria after treatment for gum disease, and help maintain that healthy bacteria balance. They benefit your oral health because they compete with the harmful bacteria present in your mouth for binding sites. When probiotic bacteria occupy space on your teeth and gums, it reduces available surface area for disease-causing bacterial colonization.

As with any bacterial or fungal process, the bacteria live in complex colonies called biofilms, which often are resistant to penetration with probiotics and antibiotics or antifungals. The key is to disrupt this biofilm. This often starts in the bowel with absorption. Once the pathways are open, the good bacteria in the probiotics can effectively penetrate and repopulate.

Biofilm can’t cause disease when it has no contact with your gum tissue.

We have seen excellent results in managing periodontal disease in patients who are on a prebiotics/probiotics regimen. Please call our office or request a referral if your dentist has diagnosed you with periodontal disease and you are interested in taking a natural, homeopathic approach to treatment.