Antibiotics may worsen oral infection

antibiotics oral infection

New research from the US has found that antibiotics actually kill the ‘good’ bacteria keeping oral infection and inflammation at bay.

Scientists have long known that overuse of antibiotics can do more harm than good. For example, overuse can cause antibiotic resistance. But until now there has been little research into this phenomenon in oral health.

Recently a team of researchers led by Pushpa Pandiyan, from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, examined ‘resident’ bacteria, their fatty acids and their effect on certain types of white blood cells that combat infections in the mouth.


Specifically, they looked at the short-term maintenance of Tregs and Th-17 cells in fighting fungal infections, such as candida, in a laboratory setting.

They found that these natural defences were very effective in reducing infection and unwanted inflammation—and that antibiotics tend to hinder this process. 

Their work was recently published in Frontiers in Microbiology.

“We set out to find out what happens when you don’t have bacteria to fight a fungal infection,” Pandiyan said. “What we found was that antibiotics can kill short-chain fatty acids produced by the body’s own good bacteria.

“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,” she added.

Pandiyan said the study could have broader implications on the protective effects of “resident microbiota” in other types of infections.

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