We are watching the end of the antibiotics era, and experts are busy examining all of the usual suspects, but in looking at all of the overprescribing from doctors and veterinarians we’re ignoring another source of antibiotic saturation – the dental industry.
The Quiet Ones
A recent study from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) found that 36 percent of dentists report prescribing antibiotics in situations not recommended by the American Dental Association. In 2015, dentists general and specialist combined to issue more than 24.5 million antibiotic prescriptions. Dentists most commonly prescribe penicillin, amoxicillin, and other related antibiotics in that family. Many of these antibiotics are already ineffective against several major bacteria, including E. coli and Streptococcus pneumoniae.
The consequences of antibiotic overuse are one of the most serious health problems facing the world today, but not everyone recognizes that. Most studies and articles concerning antibiotic resistant-bacteria fails to mention dentists as a factor in that. That is also reflected in the MDH study, where 34 percent of people who recently received antibiotics from a dentist did not have those pharmaceuticals listed on their medical charts. Another worrying trend? Dentists appear to be increasing their rate of prescribing these treatments.
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Is Anyone Listening?
As a kid, no one wants to go to the dentist, and it’s clear as an adult that a visit to the dentist for mouth problems is likely to end in a prescription for antibiotics. Dentists are usually ignored or pushed to the side when it comes to discussing health. They are their own insurance category, have an entirely different governing body to report to, and have easily been able to separate the health of the mouth from the health of the rest of the body. We now know that separation does not exist. Holistic dentistry is on the rise but until it’s more accepted, getting a dentist to listen to your concerns about how antibiotics and other procedures could impact your overall health is like…pulling teeth (lolz!).
So what do you do?
- There are two things that all dentists recommend that are essential: brush and floss. Stop cheating. Routine is your friend.
- Look up oil pulling and start doing it. At first, this is easier said than done. The oil feels slimy, and the average person’s jaw is simply not ready for twenty minutes of sustained swishing. Work up to it.
- Getting in front of an infection is super important. If you’re feeling any kind of pain, assume it’s an infection and chew on raw garlic for as long as you can before spitting it out. Even if you don’t technically have an infection yet, a round or two of that will knock it right out.
- Sugar does not cause cavities. But sugar feeds the less desirable bacteria in the mouth and gut, allowing infections to more easily take root. Replacing sugar with fresh raw produce feeds the beneficial bacteria and maintain a healthy homeostasis. Diet is the key to holistic health, and we often forget to include the mouth in that.
Health Comes First
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria will kill 10 million people a year by 2050 if things stay the same. Many medical journals, doctors, and researchers are sounding the alarm. Though dentists don’t seem to be as concerned, they are the issuers of 24.5 million antibiotic prescriptions a year, and they need to be part of the conversation.
- Antibiotics for dental procedures linked to superbug infection, study shows – Eureka Alert
- Superbugs could kill more people than cancer, report warns – CBS News
- Heal Cavities, Gum Disease, Naturally with Organic Oral Care – Toothpaste Recipes Included – Organic Lifestyle Magazine
- It’s time to break down the wall between dentistry and medicine – Stat News