Antibiotics kill good bacteria and may worsen oral infections

The harmful effects of antibiotics have long been observed, and yet medical professionals continue to prescribe them even for mild infections. One of the complications that arise from the overuse of antibiotics includes the disruption of the body’s microflora, which is involved in a large portion of immune functions. This was proven to be true by researchers from Case Western Reserve University who found that antibiotics kill good bacteria that fight off oral infections caused by candida.

The mouth is home to hundreds of bacteria. Some of these microorganisms are responsible for oral health problems like bad breath and tooth decay. However, there’s also a good portion of this bacterial population that is beneficial for maintaining oral health. These good bacteria work through different mechanisms to prevent pathogens such as candida from thriving inside the mouth.

Candida is commonly found in the mouth, but there are instances where too much of it survives inside the mouth. This leads to a condition called oral candidiasis or oral thrush. People who suffer from oral thrush exhibit creamy white lesions on their tongue or teeth or it can even spread to the roof of the mouth, gums, tonsils, or throat. These lesions tend to be painful and can interfere with your eating. To resolve oral thrush, medical professionals often prescribe antibiotics which do more harm than good.

In this study, which was published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, the researchers examined the effects of antibiotics on resident bacteria in the mouth that are potentially beneficial against oral candidiasis. They found that resident bacteria effectively reduced infection and excessive inflammation. However, when antibiotic treatment was administered these defense mechanisms were no longer observed. This is because the drug eliminated short-chain fatty acids produced by the good bacteria. This shows that it is better just to avoid taking antibiotics when suffering from oral thrush since it just disrupts natural immune responses.

“Of course, antibiotics are still needed for life-threatening infections — no question about that. Our bodies have many natural defenses that we shouldn’t meddle with. However, needless overuse of antibiotics is not helpful,” said Dr. Pushpa Pandiyan, an assistant professor of biological sciences in the School of Dental Medicine, Case Western Reserve University and the lead author of the study.

Overall, this study shows that antibiotics are bad for beneficial bacteria and they can even reduce the body’s chances of fighting off oral infections caused by candida. (Related: Antibiotics cause health problems and candida overgrowth.)

Home remedies for oral thrush

If you’re suffering from oral thrush, there are many alternative remedies that you can consider using to avoid antibiotics. These include the following:

  • Saltwater — Add half a teaspoon of salt in warm water and use this as a mouthwash to get rid of candida and other harmful microorganisms in your mouth.
  • Yogurt — Yogurt contains good bacteria that prevent candida from thriving inside your mouth. Moreover, it’s also soft and delicious so it won’t be hard for you to eat even with the mouth lesions.
  • Lemon juice — The natural antiseptic and anti-fungal properties of lemon juice makes it an effective remedy against oral thrush. All you need is juice from half a lemon and some water, and you’re good to go.
  • Vitamin C — To get rid of pathogens like candida, you need to have a robust immune system. You can achieve this by eating foods rich in vitamin C such as oranges, watermelons, pineapples, and kiwi. Or you can also choose to take vitamin C supplements.

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