The Oral Microbiome, Dental Caries and Probiotics
Over the past 25 years, dental research has begun to focus on investigating the potential of probiotics as an agent to prevent dental caries. Previous efforts to treat cavities have been most successful with preventative measures and then basic reactionary solutions, mainly fillings and extractions. Many hypothesize that probiotics possess the ability to revolutionize caries treatment by providing a maintenance of balance within the oral microbiome. Demineralization and decay are caused by the domination of acidogenic bacteria within the colonizing biofilm and a subsequent build up of their acidic metabolic byproducts. There have been previous efforts to target cariogenic bacteria with vaccines, or their particular virulence factors with small molecular inhibitors yet it is difficult to create a product which will work from individual to individual. Due to the highly variable nature of the oral microbiome, the composition of one person’s biofilm can differ from another’s based on countless factors. This literature review will compile many recent sources to give a basic understanding of all of the necessary background knowledge and then assess the emerging field of dental probiotics.