Previous research has suggested that the overuse of antibiotics may ultimately do more harm than good. Now, scientists have found that even oral health can be compromised with the misuse of antibiotics.
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According to a new study from Case Western University, published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, antibiotics may actually kill the "good" bacteria instead of keeping oral infections at bay.
"Oral infections and inflammation have a dramatic impact on overall human health and have been related adversely to cancer and cardiovascular disease," the researchers wrote. "Therefore studies focusing on how resident microbes govern oral immune homeostasis are urgently needed."
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The team of scientists used 4-week-old gender-matched, pathogen free mice in a laboratory setting to find out what happens to certain white blood cells when you lose the bacteria and fatty acids typically needed to fight an oral fungal infection.
"What we found was that antibiotics can kill short-chain fatty acids produced by body's own good bacteria," lead researcher Pushpa Pandiyan wrote in a university article. "We have good bacteria doing good work every day, why kill them? As is the case with many infections, if you leave them alone, they will leave on their own."
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But that doesn’t mean antibiotics are never to be used. In life threatening situations, Pandiyan said, antibiotics can be quite beneficial.
She is currently working on another study on HIV patients who have developed oral health conditions due to weakened immune systems.
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According to the Mayo Clinic, the appropriate use of antibiotics can protect against antibiotic-resistant infections, but it's easy to misuse the medications. Experts recommend taking all the antibiotic medication prescribed, not just until you feel well again. Doctors typically prescribe antibiotics when symptoms last for at least seven days or seem to get worse instead of better over time.
Read the full study at frontiersin.org.