The link between probiotics and good gut health are well-known, but it's the benefits of probiotics for oral health and hygiene that has a Dunedin-based tech company making waves on the world stage.
Blis Technologies is at the forefront of innovation, developing probiotic products that wage war on the billions of invading bad bacteria trying to take over the natural bacteria of the mouth, teeth and gums.
It's common knowledge that bad bacteria can contribute to tooth decay, gum disease and the dreaded halitosis (bad breath), but it can also have a flow on effect to other aspects of our life.
Blis Technologies Chief Executive Brian Watson says oral health plays a key role in overall wellness.
"The general public would be amazed at what goes on inside their mouth. Things like bad breath and gum disease can be a major problem for some people, but what's really alarming is the link between oral health and the overall well-being of our bodies, including heart, circulation and brain function."
Watson describes the mouth as being like a battlefield. "If the mouth is the gateway for the human body then an oral-targeted probiotic is a first line of support for the body's defences."
General probiotics have become commonplace for the health-conscious in recent years, particularly for those concerned about gut health. But it's the lesser known oral probiotics that are starting to take-off in the health supplement market.
For Blis Technologies, developing the world's first advanced oral probiotic has been a game-changer. It's fair to say that their products, developed and made in Dunedin, are in hot demand.
Brian Watson believes it's the science behind the products that sets them apart. "It was Professor John Tagg's groundbreaking work in the University of Otago Microbiology Department more than 20 years ago that really paved the way for what we see today."
"His discovery of specific strains of 'friendly' bacteria that are effective in dealing to bad bacteria in the mouth, led directly to the products we now offer. The fact that Professor Tagg is still very much involved in our laboratory work is a reflection of how important the role of science is in everything we do."
The correlation between the body's oral immune response and the use of certain probiotics has certainly struck a chord with savvy consumers who value the scientific foundation these products are based on.
Traditionally, oral health has been the domain of dentists and dental hygienists. And while their role is still important, being able to take control and potentially limit those eye-watering bills by taking a proactive approach is holding great appeal.
So could sucking a simple probiotic lozenge be the next big thing in health supplements? Brian Watson believes so. "This is an efficient and cost-effective way of supporting overall wellness."
If supporting optimal health is key, then sucking a probiotic lozenge once a day could also provide an answer to a big problem facing New Zealand.
The appalling rates of tooth decay in Kiwi children hit the headlines earlier this year and Watson agrees that a probiotic could have a role in supporting oral health.
"It's about getting on the front foot," Watson says. "The state of children's oral health in this country is a real concern and it would be great if our products could form part of the solution."
Having achieved considerable success already, it's no surprise that this small Kiwi company and its world-leading, advanced oral probiotics has attracted the attention of international consumers.
Their strains have gained regulatory approval from the powerful Food and Drug Administration in the United States, the Therapeutic Goods Association in Australia and from Health Canada. Clearing these all-important hurdles opens up vast new markets for the innovative Blis Technologies.
"This is an extremely exciting time for us," enthuses Watson. "There's so much potential with oral probiotics, it's just a case of getting the message out there and letting the science speak for itself."
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Blis Technologies offers a range of oral probiotics that can be found online or at leading pharmacies and health stores nationwide. Always read the label and take as directed. Blis Technologies Dunedin. 1947RS