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It’s a Mouthful!

By Radhia Gleis

Most sore throats are typically treated with antibiotics. But the problem is -- most sore throats are caused by viruses and antibiotics are of no use in viral infections. Strep throat, however, is caused by a pathogenic type A streptococcus bacteria strain, known as Streptococcus pyogenes. Because it is impossible to tell at home if a sore throat is caused by strep, many people with sore throats visit their physicians, and receive antibiotic treatment for what ultimately turns out to be a nonbacterial infection.

Over prescribing antibiotic treatment in the face of any sore throat without checking to see if it’s viral or bacterial, remains a medical standard of care, even though it has been known to be a public health problem. Overuse of antibiotics can contribute to the emergence of antibiotic resistant, “superbugs” that are difficult to treat and have the potential to produce dangerous infections. Another problem with overuse of antibiotics is it causes an imbalance of the gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome. This disruption of the population of healthy organisms that live in our GI tract has tremendous impact on overall health. Although considered a “childhood illness,” strep throat is known to occur in adults. While most sore throats are merely uncomfortable, strep throat can produce dangerous complications like rheumatic heart disease, retropharyngeal abscess, and kidney disorders.

Our oral cavity is a teaming jungle of funky bacteria. And besides Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus mutans, is the bacteria identified the most with tooth decay and is present in all areas of the mouth. The two types of bacteria most frequently associated with periodontal disease are Treponema denticola and Porphyromonas gingivalis, and both can multiply to cause inflammation of the gums. The toxins produced by T. denticola and P. gingivalis comprise what's known as the "red complex," that disrupt cultures of oral bacteria that usually exist in harmony with one another. These bacteria are usually found together in periodontal pockets, suggesting that they may cause destruction of the periodontal tissue. If enough of them sneak in beneath the gumline, they can breakdown the bone and connective tissue in and around the teeth. This can ultimately cause the teeth to loosen, some to the point of requiring removal. All of these "Bacteria” produce volatile compounds including hydrogen sulphide, methyl mercaptan and dimethyl sulphide that smell nasty, causing halitosis, AKA, bad breath!

Instead of waiting for a sore throat, periodontal disease or wondering why your friends and family keep at arm’s length, you can proactively work to prevent these problems, especially periodontal disease and sore throats of all kinds, including potentially dangerous strep. Like the probiotics we use for our gut health, now, there is a friendly-bacteria for the oral cavity, called streptococcus salivarius. S. salivarius adheres to cells in the cavity and positively affects the bacterial population and natural immune defenses by inhibiting and eliminating pathogens, modulating the immune system to reduce pathogen-induced-inflammation and helps the immune system rapidly respond to pathogens. Dr. Stewart and the folks at Neurobiologix just released their new Probiotic ENT Defend, a pleasant tasting chewable that activates in the oral cavity for support of ear, nose and throat health. Regular use of this probiotic may help you dodge the upcoming winter sore throat season, keep your mouth free from periodontal disease, and get your family to kiss you again.