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Antibiotic Use By Infants Can Lead To Dental Health Problems

On the heels of last week's article on why antibiotics are not good for the common cold or acne, this week saw the publication of an important study that links antibiotic use to dental health problems.

Specifically, the study says that treating ear infections in infants with the antibiotic amoxicillin significantly increases the risk that children will eventually develop a condition called dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis is a condition that results from excessive exposure to fluoride while enamel is being formed, with effects that can range from tiny white flecks to significant pits and brown stains.

This study followed 579 children from birth to 32 months, and found that:

  • 91 percent used amoxicillin at least once
  • 24 percent developed dental fluorosis
  • Use of amoxicillin between three and six months of age doubled the risk of developing dental fluorosis
  • "Duration of amoxicillin use was related to the number of early-erupting teeth with fluorosis"

As I have mentioned in several other articles, antiobiotics are best reserved for use in life- and limb-threatening situations only.

The two most important steps that all parents can take to help prevent ear infections in their children are:

  1. Keep children away from large quantities of pasteurized dairy products, especially milk, cheese, and ice cream.
  2. Reduce or eliminate exposure to chlorinated water.

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