Targeted Probiotic Yields Targeted Results
Great Oral Health Probiotics are one of the few probiotics I decided to take for a specific reason in the hopes of a specific outcome.
Typically, as in the Genuine Health Advanced Gut Probiotic I last reviewed, I take probiotics (and supplements in general) for overall long-term health purposes the benefits of which are difficult to assess in any short time period.
But this time was different.
First, it occurred to me that my daily use of mouthwash was likely wiping out the flora in my mouth, good and bad alike, not unlike what antibiotics can do in your gut. This can often end up with the bad (pathogens) out-competing the good (probiotics and the like) resulting in, in this case, a mouth microbiome that was badly imbalanced.
Second, and less theoretical, I was having to regularly use a tongue scraper, a plastic tool that scrapes the gunk off the surface of your tongue, particularly towards the rear, nearest the throat. I had a good bit of this stuff, and it was foul-smelling, no doubt contributing to some noticeable halitosis.
None of this was good, so I started trying out various oral probiotics, including one made by the Life Extension Foundation, a company I like a great deal, and many of whose products I use.
None if them were wholly satisfactory. In fairness, I should note I did not stick with any of these early attempts for very long, certainly not long enough to draw a definitive conclusion that they don’t work, but I was growing impatient and noticed the products I was trying, including the Life Extension offering, were all single-strain, or single-species solutions.
I wanted something more.
So, I did some additional research and ended up trying the Great Oral Health Advanced Oral Probiotics, a 7-probiotic formulation with some pretty impressive strains and research to back it up.
And you know what? It worked.
I’m not going to claim my breath now smells like lavender and sunshine (too much fish oil and fermented foods for that I’m afraid) but it was noticeably improved.
And that mat of gunk on the back of my tongue?
Gone. Simple as that.
These were tangible results, noticeable in a matter of a few months.
In my experience with supplements, this is a welcome departure from the norm.
While the protocol the company recommends is to take two lozenges a day for a month, going to one a day after that as a form of maintenance, I continue taking two as I use an antibacterial oral rinse in the morning, and another one with fluoride at night and want to make sure I am reinforcing my oral microbiome each time.
If you only use an antibacterial mouthwash (such as Listerine) once a day or not at all, you should consider taking just one lozenge after the initial period and save yourself some money.
But we’re not done yet. How does the Great Oral Health probiotic fare against my 12-point check?
Not bad. Not perfect, but acceptable, particularly given my own personal results.
1) Overall Quantity
6 billion CFUs. For a probiotic targeted at a specific health issue, in this case, oral health, this struck me as a sound number.
As I’ve pointed out before, there is not a lot of solid research clearly supporting particular quantities as being effective or ineffective, however there are conventions, and this product falls within that range.
And I can’t argue with the results.
2) Individual Quantity
Unfortunately, the company does not list the quantities by strain or species, noting that it is “proprietary” so there is no way to tell how many you are getting of each.
It is understandable why a company would want to do this (and more often than not they do) as once the exact formulation is made public, other companies could copy the product and come out with equally effective offerings. This would be a particular hazard for a product that is genuinely effective (at least for me).
But there are companies that readily reveal this information such as Genuine Health, so that remains our preference.
3) Quantity at Expiration
2 billion CFUs at expiration (18 months after manufacture). The company gets credit just for providing this information. That alone places it in the top tier of transparency.
They further burnish their reputation with me by not claiming anywhere on the front of the bottle that the product contains 6 billion CFUs, leaving the reality that it deteriorates to 2 billion to a footnote. Both amounts are equally disclosed on the back.
This deterioration is not unexpected. These come in lozenge form, and are not blister packed, which means all the contents of the bottle come into contact with the air, and its microbes, once opened.
While not required, this is the only probiotic I keep in my refrigerator under the expectation that it will help prolong the life of the microorganisms inside. I also try not to buy too many bottles in advance so that I’m finishing them off long before they reach that 2 billion CFU count.
4) Identified Strains
Of the seven probiotics listed, only two are specifically identified by strain, Streptococcus salivarius BLIS K12 and Streptococcus salivarius BLIS M18.
I sent a note to the company asking if they provided the other five. The response from a spokesperson was that they did in fact list the “strains,” and repeated what was listed on the bottle, which was:
Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Reuteri, Lactobacillus Salivarius, Lactobacillus Paracasei, Lactobacillus Thermophilus and Streptococcus Salivarius.
I responded by noting they were providing only genus (the first part of the name) and species (the second part) but not the third part, the strain, as they did with the BLIS K12 and BLIS M18. I did not hear back, which was disappointing.
Ideally I would want that information, but the two strains they do list are very specific to oral health and are in fact trademarked and patented by a company called BLIS Technologies (which of course is why they want to highlight them).
These strains have an interesting backstory. They were relatively uncommon strains found in the mouths of people who appeared to have a natural resistance to throat infections. After being identified, they were cultivated, studied, and found to be useful as probiotics, particularly for the vast majority of people who otherwise lacked these strains.
I would consider the other species included in the formula to be, “generically helpful” although there is research supporting L. reuteri as having specific oral-health benefits and to a lesser extent, L. Paracasei.
Not perfect, but by my observations, two out of five is above average in terms of transparency.
5) Multiple Species or Strains
As noted above, seven strains total. Arguably overkill for its intended use in that it is specifically targeted, but that target is the entire mouth, which has its own microbiome, so a multi-strain formula is a good approach, which is why I sought it out in the first place.
Regardless, given my results, I have nothing negative to say about the formulation.
6) Supporting Research
The company does an excellent job in providing supporting research, and if you reach out to them, they will direct you to this information on their site, plus some downloads. I was also able to independently dig up some research on the two patented strains BLIS K12 and BLIS M18.
The one shortcoming is that while the research cited does support the efficacy of each individual probiotic in the formula, there is no research supporting the efficacy of this particular formulation of probiotics.
BLIS Technologies does make a case that the combination of K12 and M18 are in fact complimentary to each other.
I reached out to the company asking if there was any research examining the efficacy of their specific formulation and the spokesperson indicated that that was something they would hope to have in the future, although no time frame was specified.
7) Third-party Testing
I could not find any discussion of third-party testing the company conducts or makes available to consumers.
8) Other Ingredients
Given these are chewable lozenges, the list of other ingredients that go into their making is a fairly long one and should not be surprising. There are no red flags here for me, but I’ve laid them out so you can judge for yourself, as we all have our own criteria. Mine is to focus purely on the health aspects of these added ingredients and attempt to stick to the credible evidence available as to their safety.
Calcium 5 mg, Zinc 3 mg The company claims these help to remineralize the teeth. I have no opinion on that one way or the other. Neither one should have any material effect on your microbiome.
Isomalt A common sugar alcohol used as a low-calorie sweetener. Isomalt has been found to actually increase the desirable Bifidobacteria in the gut, although for some people who are particularly sensitive to sugar alcohols, they can cause various forms of digestive discomfort. (I have experienced this in the past with other sugar alcohols, but at much higher amounts. These lozenges had no such effect on me. Your results may differ, of course.)
Inulin A soluble prebiotic fiber, often used as a sweetener, believed to be beneficial to various species of both the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus probiotic genera.
Microcrystalline Cellulose A non-digestible insoluble fiber usually made from wood pulp and used as a common food additive serving a number of purposes such as a bulking, anti-caking, and stabilizing agent. I could not find anything suggesting it could damage the microbiome.
Glyceryl Behenate A fatty acid that in oral applications is typically used as a lubricating agent. It is generally recognized as safe by the FDA and I could not find any suggestion that it might be unsafe for your microbiome.
Dicalcium Phosphate An “ionic salt” made up of both phosphate and calcium, both of which are important inorganic nutrients, included here most likely to provide the calcium content listed above.
Mint Flavor (natural), Strawberry and Vanilla Flavor (natural) The lozenges come in two flavors, mint, and strawberry-vanilla. The mint lozenges have a very mild mint flavor. (I have not tried the strawberry-vanilla.) I could not find anything suggesting that the ingestion of these natural flavors would be a problem for the microbiome.
Stevia A natural non-caloric sweetener derived from the stevia leaf. Generally considered as one of the safest non-nutritive sweeteners available.
That said, it is not without controversy. One study found its presence can suppress the growth of Lactobacillus reuteri, somewhat ironic given that is one of the constituents of the Great Oral Health probiotic. However, another indicated no such connection.
As I indicated in my review of her book, The Microbiome Solution, Dr. Robynn Chutkan placed stevia on her list of “red light” foods. While I admit I have since approached the presence of stevia in my food with greater caution, I remain skeptical that it is a problem, particularly in these kinds of quantities.
From the label (if you suffer from any allergies, be sure to check the bottle you have on hand before taking): “Does not contain wheat, starch, or yeast. May contain trace amounts of milk from fermentation process.”
10) Survivability in the Gut
Not applicable, as it is intended for the oral cavity. In that regard, the probiotics used were chosen in part for their ability to adhere to dental surfaces.
The recommendation that the lozenge be chewed and allowed to sit in the mouth for 30 seconds to a minute before swallowing should also help the probiotics to at least spend some useful time in the mouth.
I personally suck on it slowly, chewing slightly, for a few minutes.
These are chewable lozenges loose in a bottle that once opened, exposes the contents to the air. For that reason, while it is considered to be shelf stable and does not require refrigeration, this is the one probiotic I do keep in the refrigerator.
My assumption is that probiotics absent some kind of encapsulation, such as for lozenges, are unusually prone to degradation, which I think is at least partly supported by the dramatic deterioration in CFU count (6 to 2 billion) in just 18 months.
Again, given that it is a lozenge, and has to be to work as intended, this is unavoidable. I do think a blister pack in which each lozenge is protected from the environment until needed would be a superior, but clearly more expensive, solution.
12) Reputation of The Company
My personal experience with the company is too brief to render a decision one way or the other so I remain neutral for the time being.
The company does make some hay out of the fact that the product is “dentist formulated,” and while I don’t put much if any stock into such claims, it is part of the company’s origin story so I don’t have a particular problem with it in this context.
If Great Oral Health Advanced Oral Probiotics sounds like something you’d like to try, please consider using the links here. These cost you nothing extra, but do help support the work we do here and is sincerely appreciated.
While I can’t make a recommendation, as I can’t know (and no one else can either!) if these are right for you, I can guarantee I only provide links to products that I use myself unless otherwise noted (for example, I have not tried the strawberry vanilla flavor of these lozenges). Further information can be found in our “General Disclaimer” and “Affiliate Disclosure.”
Your can find links to all the products I am currently using or have used in the recent past on our Resource Page.
Thanks again, and take care!