How Superbugs and Dentistry Are Related
Recent studies have implicated dentists as being one of the reasons why society is developing superbugs. A superbug is a normal bacterium that has become immune to the effects of some antibiotics which would normally have killed it. This immunity to standard antibiotics makes it much more difficult to treat people who develop various infections, such as MRSA, C. Difficile, and others.
Bacteria with Some Superbugs
While only some bacteria are now classified as superbugs, there are many of the same types that have not reached this status. For instance, although some tuberculosis strains are now classed as superbugs, not all strains are superbugs. The list of diseases that have now developed superbugs is growing, and now includes anthrax, gonorrhea, typhoid fever, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile, group B streptococcus, Shigella, tuberculosis, and certain strands of pneumonia and meningitis.
The Use of Antibiotics in DentistryFor many years, it was common practice among dentists to prescribe antibiotics for many common dental treatments. This practice was used for many years – and may still be used in some places – included prescribing patients pre-treatment antibiotics for those who had heart conditions or artificial joints. This was looked at as a preventive measure at the time but is now no longer offered. After researching it further, the American Dental Association (ADA) no longer recommends it.
In other cases, antibiotics were given where dentists thought it would be better to be safe than sorry. Other times, it was the patients that wanted them. Now, more detailed recommendations have been given by the ADA as to when antibiotics might be wisely used.
Antibiotics Are Everywhere
Over the years, antibiotics have been used in many ways. It is used in cattle feed, in various health products such as soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes, clothing, and more. People are ingesting it in many ways now and they do not even realize it. This is creating superbug bacteria at all levels and places. At the present time, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are popping up all over the globe.
Researchers at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) were examining the records of people who had the C. diff infection. Each of these people never stayed overnight in a hospital or in a nursing home. A problem that was discovered in those cases was that there was no record of about 15 percent of them ever having had dental treatments where antibiotics were prescribed. As the researchers dug a little deeper, it was discovered that about one-third of them did not have any dental procedure that required or recommended antibiotics.
Mercury Amalgams and Superbugs
Another connection between dentistry and superbugs may exist between dental amalgams containing mercury and the development of superbugs. Some bacteria have genes that are very close to those that are connected to both resistance of heavy metals and to antibiotic resistance. Research on humans as to how these bacteria might affect intestinal bacteria is only being researched now.
One study involving primates discovered a strong connection. In the experiment, some bacteria in the mouth and in the intestines developed a resistance to several antibiotics (ampicillin, streptomycin, tetracyclines, kanamycin, chloramphenicol, and erythromycin) within just two weeks after receiving a mercury amalgam. Prior to the placement of the amalgam, the bacteria did not have resistance to these antibiotics. The bacteria also demonstrated an ability to spread this resistance to other bacteria for the survival of the species.
A Serious Problem
As more and more types of bacteria become superbugs, the ability of doctors and medical staff to heal someone is becoming less likely. Antibiotics that would have normally been sufficient to stop an illness or infection are now rendered completely useless. This leaves fewer and fewer ways to stop the new superbugs. Soon, some of them will be unstoppable. Even common illnesses can become deadly when they become superbugs and may spread to massive numbers of people.
A professor at the University Of Iowa College of Dentistry Pharmacy believes that we might have about 10 years left before all of our antibiotics become ineffective. The real problem, though, is that there is nothing that can be used to replace them.
Dentists and Antibiotics NowAs a result of the growing amount of superbugs, dentists will now use far fewer antibiotics. Patients need to understand why this is necessary – it is for their own protection. They will not be prescribed nearly as often to help superbug infection, and when they are, patients must be careful to take them as prescribed until gone.
If you need dental care and want to be sure that antibiotics are only prescribed when necessary so you do not develop superbugs, then Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist, is the dentist you want to see. He has offices in the Carrollton, TX, and Grapevine, TX areas, and performs all kinds of dentistry, including cosmetic. For a consultation for better oral health, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578