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Sofie Wise

Dr. Umer Khan

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About Author — Medically reviewed by Dr Umer Khan, MD who is a Board Certified physician practicing in Pennsylvania. His special interests include wellness, longevity and medical IT.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

Antibiotics For Tooth Infection

Do you need antibiotics for a toothache?

If your pain is caused by a tooth infection, the answer is likely yes, with follow up care by a dentist as well. 

Without antibiotic treatment, an infection that starts in a tooth can travel throughout your body with potentially life-threatening consequences, such as infections of the head, neck, or brain.

Best Antibiotics for Tooth Infection

The type of antibiotic your doctor or dentist will prescribe for your tooth infection depends on the type of bacteria causing the infection and whether you’re allergic to any antibiotics or not.

Common antibiotics prescribed for tooth infections include:

Penicillin. Depending on the type of bacteria causing the infection, and the location of the infection, penicillin alone may not be effective so it may be prescribed alongside another antibiotic such as Flagyl.

Amoxicillin is given to adult patients with mild tooth infections without any signs of sepsis.

Clindamycin is usually given to penicillin allergic patients.

It is important to understand that even if you feel better, antibiotics should still be taken for the complete duration of prescribed time.

The reason for this is despite feeling better, there is a possibility you have not fully recovered and some bacteria may still remain in the tooth and may become antibiotic resistant.


Read: Everything You Need to Know About Antibiotic Resistance


Why Should You Treat a Bacterial Tooth Infection With Antibiotics?

Any infection that is in your head or neck, such as a tooth infection, should be taken very seriously. This is because the infection may spread to your brain, a potentially life threatening condition.

Additionally, if the infection is bacterial – as tooth infections and other infections in the mouth often are – then it is unlikely it will go away on its own.

Most oral bacterial infections need antibiotic treatment to fight off the infection and keep it away. Without antibiotics for a tooth infection you risk spreading the infection, and as mentioned above, this can be very serious.

How Long Should I Take Antibiotics For a Tooth Infection?

Typically antibiotics for a tooth infection are prescribed for one week.

Though for some people it may take more time for the antibiotics to reach the infection in which case the time period may be extended by your doctor.

Patients with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk for spreading of orofacial infections so antibiotic treatment is highly recommended.

Depending on your dosage you may take your antibiotics 2 to 4 times a day.

Always follow the instructions of your prescribing doctor regarding dosage and length of prescription time.

If you run out of antibiotics and still have a tooth infection see your doctor or dentist again for follow up care and a prescription refill.

When To Skip Antibiotics For Tooth Infection

In some cases antibiotics may not be necessary. There are three common situations where this applies:

The infected tooth is completely removed

A root canal is performed on the infected tooth

You have an abscess that your dentist is able to drain completely

Tooth Infection Causes

There are many potential causes of tooth infections. The 3 most common causes of tooth infections are:

Tooth Decay

Dental work

Injuries

Plaque formation plays a very important role in the development of dental cavities and tooth infection. Plaque is a collection of bacteria that sticks to the surface of the tooth.


Oral hygiene, diet, and genetic predisposition are also risk factors of tooth infection.


If you have a tooth that is decaying or an untreated cavity and you are experiencing pain you may have an infection and should seek treatment.

Additionally, if you have recently had dental work or an injury to the mouth and are experiencing tooth pain it’s likely you have a tooth infection and you should also seek treatment.

Tooth Infection Symptoms

Given the potential complications of tooth infections, it is very important to recognize the symptoms so you know when to seek treatment.

Symptoms typically associated with a tooth infection include:

Tooth discoloration

Pain when eating or pressing on tooth

Throbbing pain in tooth

Swollen gums that are infected with pus

Foul breath

Gum Discoloration

Hot or cold sensitivity

Fever

Swollen lymph nodes or jaw

Pain in the jaw

Health tooth vs. tooth infection.
If you are experiencing the symptoms above you should contact a doctor or dentist for a treatment plan.

Think you may be suffering from a tooth infection? Book an appointment to speak with a PlushCare doctor and get antibiotics for tooth infection online today.


Read More About Antibiotics For Tooth Infection


Sources

Mayo Clinic. (2019). Tooth Abscess.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tooth-abscess/symptoms-causes/syc-20350901

Dentably. (nd). Antibiotics for Tooth Infection: FAQs.
https://www.emergencydentistsusa.com/antibiotics-for-tooth/

Healthline. (2018). Metronidazole, Oral Tablet. https://www.healthline.com/health/metronidazole-oral-tablet

WebMD. (nd). Clindamycin HCl.
https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-12235/clindamycin-hcl-oral/details

MedicineNet. (2019). Abscessed Tooth. https://www.medicinenet.com/abscessed_tooth_guide/article.htm#how_do_health_care_professionals_diagnose_an_abscessed_tooth

Medical News Today. (2018). Causes and Treatment of Gingivitis.
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/241721.php

Healthline. (2019). 10 Home Remedies for a Tooth Abscess.
https://www.healthline.com/health/home-remedies-for-abscess-tooth#3

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