Lactobacillus? Paracasei? Salivarius? BLIS? What Are those Probiotic Tongue Twisters?

March 15, 2018 3 min read

oral probiotics

We often get asked just what our ingredients are and what goes into our oral probiotic mix.

The simple answer is that we use all-natural ingredients, we are gluten-free, sugar-free, nut-free and lactose-free. And that we use a blend of seven strains of beneficial oral bacteria that work together to promote greater oral health.

But when we get into the “name game” our customers’ eyes tend to glaze over and their minds wander to distant fields.

 Yes, some of these names seem rather scary and scientific BUT when you break them down they are actually simple–and in some cases downright silly.

First, what is BLIS K12 and BLIS M18?

Those names sounds like something out of Star Wars perhaps, but this is a rather easy one to explain–although it is the most complicated of them all.

First, BLIS stands for “Bacteriocin Like Inhibitory Substances” and the only word that needs much further explanation here is “bacteriocin.” So, let’s breakdown that word into parts:

Bacteri- this obviously refers to bacteria in general and -cin (and -mycin) are just endings used in the medical world to name antibiotics. So, a “bacteriocin” refers to any type of bacteria that acts like an antibiotic as it fights other bacteria.

How does this work in simple action terms? Well, one bacteria produce a protein substance and this substance is then active against and inhibits the life of other related bacteria.

Now, put all the two words together and you have a BACTERIUM that acts LIKE an antibiotic because it INHIBITS the growth of other similar bacteria strains by producing a SUBSTANCE.

This is what BLIS stands for. Get it? Oh, and by the way, the numbers at the end are just numbers with no real meaning. K12 and M18 are just random names for specific bacterial strains.

In your mouth, when you use our oral probiotics then the BLIS K12 and M18 strains go to work by inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria. They do this by producing a substance that is antagonistic to the bad bacteria. And this is why people that have higher levels of BLIS K12 and M18 in their mouths get fewer colds, sore throats and healthier gums–a bit like a natural antibiotic in your mouth!

More Fun with Our Probiotic Bacteria Names

These now get a bit easier, as they are just names and don’t need a breakdown of what they do. We cover the individual actions of these bacterial strains in other blogs, but for now we will just cover their names.

The first word "lactobacillus" breaks down into “lacto” meaning milk and “bacillus” which means a type of bacteria.

“Lacto” has to do with the whole family of bacteria that converts glucose into lactose and other things related to milk.

And “bacillus” really only means “rod or stick” when you take it back to the Latin, as these types of bacteria look a bit like sticks when viewed under a microscope.

The words that follow "lactobacillus:" 

  • Acidophilus–just comes from “acid” and “phile” which means “loving.” This type of bacteria stains easily with an acid dye, so they called it “acid-loving.”
  • Reuteri–just named after a German scientist, Gerhard Reuter.
  • Paracasei–this is just silly, “para” means “on or about” and “casei” comes from the Latin for cheese, so a type of bacteria that is found on cheese.
  • Salivarius–just has to do with “saliva” as this bacterium commonly colonizes the oral tract, including the gut as well, and you find saliva there.
  • Thermophiles–pretty simple one, “thermos” has to do with heat and “phile” has to do with loving. So, guess what, these bacteria like warmth!

Really pretty simple when you break these scientific words down.


Even a scary one, such as “Salivarius Streptococcus” is easy. In the oral tract (saliva) and looks like a twisted stalk of grain (“strep” means twisted and “coccus” means grain). Notice in the picture on the left that the bacteria look twisted. Easy-peasy, huh?

We hope this helps you to better understand those tough words on our ingredients label!


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