Use of antibiotics in dental problems is very common. It is estimated that out of all antibiotics prescribed a large percentage is for dental infections. Antibiotics are generally prescribed by the dentists in bacterial infections. In fact, it is likely to be one of the first things to be recommend by your dentist in case of a dental infection. Today we will see which antibiotics are used in dentistry and the role played by them in fighting dental infections.
What is a tooth infection?
When harmful bacteria get into the root of the tooth it can cause pus formation. Such an infection is also called tooth abscess. A child or an adult can suffer from an abscessed tooth. A tooth abscess generally does not heal on its own and required a visit to the dentist.
It can be caused by –
- Tooth decay
- Injuries to the tooth
- Previous dental work done on the tooth
Most common symptoms of tooth infection are
- Swelling of surrounding tissue
- Tooth sensitivity
While some dentists may be able to drain out the pus without the use of antibiotics but in most cases, antibiotics are used. Tooth abscess not treated well in time can become life threatening as it spreads to the jaw, neck, head and other body parts. Read more about tooth abscess in our blog with the same title.
When are antibiotics used in dental infections?
In case of a severe infection or if the infection has spread a lot there are good chances that your dentist will prescribe antibiotics. In cases where the patient has a weak immune system then the dentist may prescribe antibiotic for even a not so severe or localized infection.
Which antibiotics are generally prescribed in dentistry?
The type of antibiotics used by the dentist will depend upon the type of bacterial infection one has. There are more than 150 types of bacteria found in the mouth and most of them can potentially cause dental infections. The 2 most commonly used antibiotics of the Penicillin class are –
- Penicillin – is the most commonly used antibiotic since its discovery all over the world.
- Amoxicillin – as per the International Dental Journal, amoxicillin is the most commonly prescribed antibiotic for dental infections.
Many people however now a days are allergic to penicillin. In case you are one of those make sure you inform your doctor about it before they prescribe these medications. For people with allergies the dentist may prescribe –
- Clindamycin – It is effective against a large spectrum of bacteria.
- Azithromycin – is also capable of halting the growth of a large number of bacteria.
- Metronidazole – is generally not the first choice of antibiotics recommended by dentists but they use it in case other antibiotics do not work on a patient for some reason.
The dosages of these antibiotics can vary from 500mg/ 8 hours to up to 2000 mg/ 8 hours.
Side effects of antibiotics
While antibiotics do a great job of treating a tooth infection fast and not allowing it to spread and give almost instant relief to the patient one must be aware of the side effects of these antibiotics too. Diarrhea, gastric upsets and nausea are some of the most common side effects of these antibiotics. Some like metronidazole can have severe side effects like seizures, anesthesia of the limbs and it is also incompatible if alcohol is consumed. These are some of the reasons why dentists avoid this particular antibiotic however if your dentist is recommending it, then they must have outweighed the benefits vis a vis the risks associated with it.
Besides these, dizziness, rash, yeast infections are also some of the common side effects of all the above antibiotics.
What care must you take while on antibiotics?
- Please inform your doctor about any allergies that you may have, including those from any medicine.
- Please make sure you check with the doctor if antibiotic prescribed is suitable for children, pregnant women or breastfeeding women as the case may be.
- Make sure you complete the entire course of medication given. Many people stop taking the medicine the moment they get relief from their symptoms. This is a very bad habit and can result in one developing antibiotic resistance which will make it more difficult for you to get rid of any future infections.
- Please consult your doctor/ dentist if you observe any side effects. While some are common it is always advisable to check in with them for any course correction.
- Antibiotic treatment may clear the infection but you may need additional procedures like root canal, fillings or extraction of tooth to keep the infection away.
- Don’t miss your prescribed dosage and take the medicine on time every time.
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