The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect on oral health, at age 9 years, of daily oral supplementation with the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri, strain ATCC 55730, to mothers during the last month of gestation and to children through the first year of life.
The study was a single-blind, placebo- controlled, multicenter trial involving 113 children: 60 in the probiotic and 53 in the placebo group. The subjects underwent clinical and radiographic examination of the primary dentition and carious lesions, plaque and gingivitis were recorded. Saliva and plaque were sampled for determination of mutans streptococci (MS) and lactobacilli (LB) in saliva and plaque as well as salivary secretory IgA (SIgA).
49 (82%) children in the probiotic group and 31 (58%) in the placebo group were caries-free (p < 0.01). The prevalence of approximal caries lesions was lower in the probiotic group (0.67 ± 1.61 vs. 1.53 ± 2.64; p < 0.05) and there were fewer sites with gingivitis compared to the placebo group (p < 0.05). There were no significant differences between the groups with respect to frequency of toothbrushing, plaque and dietary habits, but to intake of fluoride supplements (p < 0.05). There were no intergroup differences with respect to L. reuteri, MS, LB or SIgA in saliva.
Within the limitation of this study it seems that daily supplementation with L. reuteri from birth and during the first year of life is associated with reduced caries prevalence and gingivitis score in the primary dentition at 9 years of age.