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Dental Student's Research Paper Explores Probiotics in Dentistry

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Written by Adam Zewe

Despite their bad reputation, bacteria could be used to help treat or even prevent some dental diseases. Dental student Andrew Klish, DDS '14, studied the potential benefits of dental therapies that utilize bacteria and recently published his findings in a General Dentistry literature review.

The paper, "What every dentist needs to know about the human microbiome and probiotics" was written by Klish in collaboration with Professor Nasir Bashirelahi, PhD, and Interim Assistant Dean of Admissions and Recruitment Judith Porter, DDS, EdD. Klish examined existing research regarding the possible applications of probiotics in the prevention and treatment of caries and periodontal diseases. Probiotics, which are living organisms that provide health benefits, are most commonly found as live cultures of "good" bacteria in products that support digestive health, like dietary supplements and yogurt. Sales of these probiotic foods and supplements surpassed $21 billion in 2010.

In dentistry, probiotics could be used to kill and replace the bacteria Streptococcus mutans in the oral cavity. S. mutans are the bacteria that cause dental caries. By treating a patient with probiotics, a dentist may be able to kill S. mutans without eliminating certain types of oral bacteria that have been shown to help prevent the formation of dental caries. "With antibiotics or a mouthwash, you are wiping everything out, even the bacteria that are not doing you any harm. By using probiotics, the goal is to eradicate and then replace just that one type of bacteria," Klish says.

Probiotics have also shown limited success at decreasing the inflammation caused by gingivitis. While the study of probiotics in dentistry is gaining prevalence, more research is needed to determine their clinical effectiveness and safety. Klish hopes that his paper sparks more interest in this area. "This is a new frontier. We have spent the last century trying to destroy bacteria. Probiotics may help us leap forward biomedically and find new ways to treat diseases," he remarks.

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  • Posting Date: 01/30/2014