What Is the Link Between Triclosan And Antibiotic Resistance?

The early morning routine of every other person includes brushing teeth and taking other measures for better oral health. Without doing so, many people feel unhygienic and may not be able to have breakfast or start their day as they normally do.

Brushing teeth with a good toothpaste is, in fact, part of healthy habits to protect the gums as well as the teeth from potential health problems. However, recent research has questions many of the techniques involved in oral health that people also perform on a daily basis.

For instance, some research took flossing into consideration and declared that it may not work the way people assume it works. More recently, a new study has highlighted a relatively new issue that is also on the rise and concerning many health professionals – antibiotic resistance.

According to the research, there may be a possible link between a particular ingredient used in many of the popular toothpaste and the rise of antibiotic resistance. Till now, researchers had only linked antibiotic resistance with foods such as farmed fish or with unfinished medicinal courses.

Consequently, this came as a surprise. Triclosan, which is a microbial chemical present in a lot of oral health products such as mouthwashes and toothpaste, is what has been observed to lead to antibiotic resistance.

Read the research here. 

How Was the Study Conducted?

In order to study the effects of Triclosan on health, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis looked at lab mice and the content of the antimicrobial chemical in their blood. They noted that the presence of the chemical in the bloodstream affected how the efficiency of the antibiotics.

In addition, the chemical did not stop the growth of the bacteria but actually destroyed them.  Petra Levin, Ph.D., a study co-author comments on the effects of triclosan, saying:

“Normally, 1 in a million cells survive antibiotics and a functioning immune system can control them. But triclosan was shifting the number of cells. Instead of only 1 in a million bacteria surviving, 1 in 10 organisms survived after 20 hours. Now, the immune system is overwhelmed.”

Secondly, triclosan also created antibiotic resistance in many different types of antibiotics. The most popularly taken antibiotic containing the chemical was ciprofloxacin which is normally used to treat urinary tract infections in people.

This is particularly concerning since these infections are prevalent among the masses and ciprofloxacin is usually the first choice for treating UTIs. Statistically, more than 7 in 10 people in the United States alone have triclosan levels high enough to lead to an infection.

The researchers actually found hundred times higher presence of triclosan in the urine of the mice who were previously treated for UTIs but drank water containing the chemical in comparison with the mice who were not exposed to triclosan.

What Other Problems Triclosan May Cause?

Toothpaste and mouthwashes contributing to antibiotic resistance may be news but the chemical triclosan being the main culprit is not a surprise for the researchers.

Previous research has linked the compound to many health conditions such as reduced sperm count and endocrine disruption. Effects such as these are what lead to the eventual ban of advertising of body washes, hand washes, and soap bars containing triclosan imposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the year 2016.

However, the ban was confined to the aforementioned products. As a result, toothpaste and mouthwashes still contain the chemical.

According to researchers, this is a big problem as antibiotic resistance is already spreading and becoming a global issue. There is not enough research present to tackle the predicament effectively. Hence, most health professionals suggest avoiding the risk in the first place as prevention is always better than treatment.



Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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