I take gum care seriously after noticing sensitivity in my 30s. I decided to test out several oral probiotics.
My gums were fantastic until my thirties. Since then, no matter how much TLC I give them, they are easily the fussiest part of my body. I brush religiously, avoid sugary foods, and floss like there's no tomorrow—to no avail. My gums always tend to be more reddish and touchy than I'd like them to be. And since it's more than a matter of cosmetics or comfort—healthy gums mean better health overall—I take gum care really seriously.
I've known about probiotics for quite some time, having worked at Unilever's research unit on functional foods, and also as a lifelong yogurt lover. I was surprised to discover just a few years ago that several companies have released probiotics for the mouth. These probiotics install beneficial oral bacteria to displace the harmful Streptococcus mutans and other bacteria that lead to tooth decay (cavities), gingivitis, and other forms of periodontal disease. Some companies even claim that if you use their products, your teeth will also be whiter.
Intrigued, I promptly bought 3 of the most popular products:
- GanedenBC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086), in Life Extension's Advanced Oral Hygiene tablets
- Lactobacillus reuteri Prodentis, in GUM's PerioBalance tablets
- Probiora3 (Streptococcus oralis KJ3, Streptococcus uberis KJ2, and Streptococcus rattus JH145), in Oragenics's Evora Plus
I had already planned to see my dentist just about every month to fix some cavities I had, so I asked her if my gums appeared any different at each visit. I would use each product for 30 days, and allow a 7-10 day washout period between them to allow my oral flora to return to its natural state. Seemed like a decent protocol to me!
Test 1: GanEdenBC30 (Life Extension's Advanced Oral Hygiene)
This oral probiotic is cleverly named: Gan Eden means the Garden of Eden in Hebrew. I can only assume that, with the exception of the snake, there were no pests there, least of all oral bacteria that lead to tooth decay, gum inflammation, and bad breath.
These lozenges are small, hard, and both bitter and sweet; they're sweetened with stevia, an herbal sweetener that has both sweet and bitter notes. The bottle says they're cherry-flavored but I didn't detect a fruity flavor. But, no matter. They taste fine, and since they're hard, they take at least 10 minutes to dissolve in my mouth. That gives it plenty of time for the bacteria to adhere to my teeth, gum tissues, and tongue before being washed away by saliva.
After using these "mints" for a month, I thought I noticed that my gums were a bit healthier. They started to feel more cool, less inflamed, and a bit more pink and firm, but naturally I turned to a professional, who hadn't seen my gums in over a month, for her expert opinion:
"Have you noticed any difference in my gums?"
"Yes. I don't know if you can, but we can tell a difference," said my dentist.
"Really? How do they look compared to before?"
"They seem firm and pinker, less reddish and spongy. They look healthier."
I told her that I had been using an oral probiotic and would be checking with her every month or so. She said she would pay attention (she's sharp).
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I also noticed that the effect of the lozenges lasted several days after I stopped taking them. It took a half-week for my gums to return to their previous, easily inflamed state.
Another side benefit: GanedenBC30 is also active in the digestive system, providing regularity and support for the immune system. Normally, bacteria in your mouth do not survive the highly acidic environment of your stomach, but apparently this does. I have to say that I did notice a regularity benefit, one that I did not experience with the other two oral probiotics I tested.
Test 2: Lactobacillus reuteri Prodentis (GUM PerioBalance)
In month 2, I switched to GUM's PerioBalance tablets, which are significantly larger than the tiny GanEden30 ones. They're also very hard, so it takes a good 10 minutes to dissolve in the mouth. They're also sweet and minty, similar to a regular breath mint, although not nearly as strong as an Altoid. They're not sweetened with stevia, so they're not bitter.
I took these tablets primarily in the evening before going to bed, hoping that the bacteria in them would take over my mouth flora as I snoozed through the night.
I did not notice any major changes to the feeling in my mouth and gums, except that my gums were a bit more inflamed than they were with GanedenBC30 (but better than with nothing). But, to be safe, I asked my dentist.
"So how do my gums look?"
After poking and prodding for a minute, she replied, "Pretty much the same as last month."
So my self-assessment got some confirmation. Especially considering the cost and size of each of the lozenges, I was relatively unimpressed. The effect of the lozenges also only lasted a couple of days after I stopped using them.
Test 3: Probiora3 (Oragenics's EvoraPlus)
The third and final tablet I took was EvoraPlus, which uses a proprietary mix of three orally-beneficial bacteria called Probiora3. The pill is hard and slightly minty - not as much as PerioBalance, but still noticeably minty. It dissolves over a period of about 10 minutes. (Incidentally, I tried EvoraPlus a few years ago, and it used to be a much smaller, much softer pill, that would dissolve in about a minute in the mouth. They've clearly reformulated to make a harder pill.)
EvoraPlus did a decent job on my gums, making them feel cooler and calmer. By morning, my gums were firm and pinkish. This was confirmed by my dentist: "They look pink and firm, healthy."
Unfortunately, if the bacteria in Probiora3 had any effect on my GI system, I certainly didn't notice it. I liked GanedenBC30's fringe benefit of making me regular. Maybe Probiora3 wasn't designed to do that, but it wasn't really any better at keeping my mouth healthy than GanedenBC30, either. The effects of EvoraPlus on my gum health disappeared within a couple of days, similar to GUM's PerioBalance.
Advanced Oral Hygiene
Lactobacillus reuteri Prodentis
Count per bottle
Price per bottle
Cost per lozenge
Impact on gum health
Substantivity (how long effect lasts)
Impact on GI regularity
Even though they are slightly bitter from the stevia used to sweeten them, GanedenBC30 lozenges from Life Extension left me with the most positive impression of the three oral probiotics I tested. I enjoyed a substantive benefit to my gum health, one that both my dentist and I noticed, and it even helped me stay regular.
However, all three had a positive impact on my periodontal health, so I'd probably use any of them, even GUM's PerioBalance, over nothing at all. Keeping gums healthy is more than just a cosmetic concern: periodontal disease can even affect your cardiovascular health. Since taking an oral probiotic is pretty simple and even freshens your breath a bit, I think it's a habit worth continuing.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on July 01, 2016:
I have only one tooth that gets inflamed due to root abscess. For this, I use raw garlic, 1-4 cloves daily. Garlic is nature's antibiotic. The inflammation clears in a few days.
Diet helps, too. It's not just sugar, but keeping the bloodstream alkaline with plenty of water; organically grown dark, leafy greens; properly combining foods (proteins and grains tend to leave an ash and make the bloodstream acidic when eaten in excess); and keeping a calm, happy disposition.
Circulation can be kept efficient with exercise. Garlic and cayenne pepper improve circulation, as well.
Probiotics are good, especially if you went through a long period of convalescence or did a course of prescription antibiotics to get rid of an infection.
Because of this article, I may decide to look into dentifrice probiotics. Thank you for your determined effort in overcoming your gum problem so meticulously sharing your experience to help others.
Jonathan Perry from Portland, Oregon on January 16, 2015:
Great information. I've dealt with receding gums, I had one area that had serious recession. From what I've read you, you need a clean surface for the gums to adhere. I've read that glycerin in most toothpaste coats the teeth and interferes with the process. As well you need Vitamin C, Vit D, K2, Ca and CoQ10 for gums/teeth to heal and re-mineralization. Xlylitol can help move Calcium into our teeth. "The structure of xylitol contains a tridentate ligand, (H-C-OH)3 that can rearrange with polyvalent cations like Ca2+. This interaction allows Ca2+ to be transported through the gut wall barrier and through saliva may remineralize enamel before dental caries form". Our bodies were created to heal ourselves. In the same way that bones mend and tissue/flesh will heal (albeit with a scar at times) why would our mouth/teeth and gums be different. I've heard from more than one dentist that Teeth don't remineralize and gums don't heal or grow back, I'm not sure they are correct. For the past 5 millennia we didn't have Dentist that drilled, filled and billed. I've seen a major reversal, about 1/8" of gum tissue on my two front lower incisors with the above supplements and this Oral Pro-biotic (this regimen for only about 2-3 weeks). https://naturesplus.com/products/productdetail.php...
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on January 10, 2015:
No, I'm not a believer in oil pulling. However, I occasionally use xylitol-based mints since they help reduce pathogenic bacteria populations.
Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on January 08, 2015:
Up, Useful, Interesting & bookmarked for a closer look sometime. Have you tried "pulling" with coconut oil?
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on June 19, 2012:
Thank you for your comment, Peggy. I'm a fan of all yogurts, Greek and otherwise. Not sure if Ganeden30 is available at Costco; it's licensed for use in a bunch of products, so you might very well find it in another product, too. In the meantime, enjoy that yogurt! :)
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 19, 2012:
I have never taken a probiotic but have been hearing more and more about the benefits of using them. Had no idea that one was formulated specifically for the gums of the mouth...but good to know. We love yogurt and have recently switched to the Greek variety. Thought that would keep us on the right track. May consider using the GanedenBC30 that was the winner in your personal test. Wonder if Costco sells it? Thanks for this informative hub. Voted up, useful, interesting and will share.
Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on June 13, 2012:
Wow, you know your stuff! I'll have to watch your hubs more closely. : )
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on June 13, 2012:
Thank you, vespawoolf. I think you chose well for a general GI probiotic: one that's resistant to warmer temperatures, and enteric coated.
Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on June 13, 2012:
I'm glad to know about probiotics for gum health. You never know when that will come in handy! As far as the immune system is concerned, after trying about everything on the market I've settled on Natrol Biobeads. They don't have to be refrigerated and are encapsulated to survive gastric acids. Thank you for this useful info!
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on May 11, 2012:
Thanks, Simone. My dentist had never even heard of them! Fortunately, she's a good judge of my gums, and they do have an impact. (So does my night guard, which protects against grinding, or bruxism) I suspect these will continue to get popular, as people understand the benefits of probiotics.
Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on May 11, 2012:
Fascinating! You really are good at cross-testing things. I had no idea that one could take lozenges to improve gum health... I wonder how many people take these, and how many dentists recommend them!
Thanks for sharing your findings :D