Bacterial infections of the mouth
The microenvironment of the mouth contains a rich variety of microorganisms, including bacteria that do not cause any harm under normal conditions. If the natural balance is tipped, harmful bacteria can grow to excess and cause harm to the gums and teeth. This can be due to hormonal changes such as pregnancy or menopause, as a side effect of medication, stress or a medical condition such as diabetes or simply to poor oral hygiene. The most important and effective way of keeping harmful bacteria at bay and protecting the teeth and gums is good oral hygiene including regular tooth-brushing and flossing of teeth.
If bacterial growth builds around the teeth this can lead to gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums, or periodontitis, which is a chronic bacterial infection of the supporting structures surrounding the teeth. This can cause destruction of the tooth structure and also allow bacteria into the circulation, resulting in increased risk of systemic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.1
The body’s response to such a chronic infection can also influence the progression of periodontal disease and its interaction with other chronic diseases such as diabetes. This can also happen in the reverse, whereby the body’s immune and inflammatory response mediates the severity of periodontal disease.
Use of antibiotics
Severe bacterial infections of the teeth and gums can be treated by oral antibiotics that inhibit growth and replication of the bacteria and thereby prevent further spread of the bacteria.
Antibiotics used for dental and oral bacterial infections include:
- Clindamycin, a lincosamide antiobiotic that inhibits bacterial protein synthesis
- Metronidazole that is effective against a wide range of bacteria and other microorganisms, and works by inhibiting DNA synthesis
- Preshaw PM. Diabetes and periodontal disease. Int Dental J. 2008;S237-s243.