Streptococcus salivarius probiotic bacteria is the number one dragon slayer in the ranks of bad breath remedies. This oral probiotic replaces the bacteria in your mouth with the desirable Streptococcus salivarius K12 bacteria.
You can find "kits" of this halitosis medication at your drug store or pharmacy. Even if you can only remember the "K12" bit of its name, any half decent assistant will know what you're talking about. It usually comes as a mouthwash to blitz the existing bacteria in your mouth and then tablets containing K12 to replace them.
In New Zealand, the home of K12, these kits are named Blis. In Australia you have Breezecare's K Force and in the United States, Therabreath's Therabreath's Oral Care is the product that you need.
These bad breath products all contain the same K12 strain.
The discovery of the special K12 strain makes an interesting story. A fellow New Zealander, Professor John Tagg from Otago University, caught "strep throat" as a child and this developed into rheumatic fever. Because of this he needed to take penicillin antibiotics throughout most of his teenage years. Years later, this led him to search for a probiotic bacterium that would protect children from "strep throat" and its associated complications.
Twenty years of research led to the Otago University containing one of most extensive collections of BLIS-producing organisms in the world (about 20,000, I believe).
BLIS stands for bacteriocin-like-inhibitory substances and these are a special class of anti-bacterial proteins produced by some streptococcal bacteria that can kill closely related bacteria. Professor Tagg work has defined the role that these molecules play in the day-to-day life of bacteria within the complex ecosystems that exist in dental plaque.
The K12 strain is a highly potent BLIS-producer, producing both antibacterial peptides Salivaricin A (bacteriostatic) and Salivaricin B (bactericidal) and it killed all tested isolates of Streptococcus pyogenes.
Remember, the k12 strain was not originally discovered just for getting rid of bad breath. Its role is to keep the balance of good bacteria in your mouth and throat at an optimum level to fight diseases such as "strep throat". Curing bad breath was just a serendipitous side effect!
Streptococcus salivarius (the family - not necessarily the K12 strain) naturally colonises your mouth within a few hours of birth and this process means that later exposure to this particular bacteria is harmless. It can be found in many fermented dairy products such as yogurt and cheese (as Streptococcus salivarius supsp thermophilus), so you can see that this family has an honourable past.
The Streptococcus family does have its black sheep. It was Streptococcus pyogenes that gave Professor Tagg his "strep throat", the disease that started his quest to find a natural protector against "strep throat". I believe this disease is responsible for around 30% of children's visit to the doctor.
Well, I take it every winter to help guard against all the sniffles and snuffles that do the rounds at that time of year, and I'm still here!
The good news is our Streptococcus salivarius K12 is not one of these troublemaking Streptococcus species. Remember most bacteria have their good and bad strains.
The K12 strain has been researched thoroughly and with particular attention to its safety.
And the conclusion: "demonstrating the absence of adverse reactions in subjects actively ingesting S salivarius K12" and continues "indicate that it have very low pathogenic potential and is unlikely to cause disease in healthy humans".1
Professor Tagg summed up his research: "This is how bacteria have developed the weaponry to take on competing bacteria. I have concentrated on finding the bad bacteria's natural enemies - ones that don't harm humans."
And how does this all fit in with your bad breath? Well, this was the verdict from a study looking at the Oral Malodour Parameters on a group of chronic bad breath sufferers. (Don't you just love that term "malodour parameters"!)
And it's not just me that loves Streptococcus salivarius K12!Ed said: 'WOW Dawn - I have been using the probiotic Therabreath's Oral Care for about 2 days and I think its working. I am yet to take a "test drive" with it - that's to say I am about to go out and try to interact with people to get their reactions. I have noticed that it has also significantly reduced the whitish compound that used to form on my tongue. I am just ecstatic now, I will keep you updated.
Thanks and keep spreading the good news about this probiotic.'
1 Burton JP, Wescombe PA, Moore CJ, Chilcott CN,Tagg JR. Safety Assessment of the Oral Cavity Probiotic Streptococcus SalivariusK12. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Volume 72, Number 4, April 2006 pp 3050-3053
2 Burton JP, Chilcott CN, Moore CJ, Speiser G, Tagg JR. A Preliminary Study of the Effect of Probiotic Streptococcus salivarius K12 on Oral Malodour Parameters. Journal of Applied Microbiology, Volume 100, Number 4, April 2006, pp 754-764.