When Are Antibiotics Recommended for a Tooth Infection?

 In Dental Services, Patient Education

If you have a tooth infection, seeing a dentist as soon as possible is important to prevent any sort of infection from spreading. Your dentist will likely prescribe an antibiotic to help kill the bacteria causing your tooth infection. The good news is that if the infection is caught early enough it can be treated.

Read on to learn more about when you should use antibiotics to treat tooth infections.

What is a tooth infection?

A tooth infection is an infection at the root of the tooth between the jaw and gum line. The swelling can be extremely painful and often unbearable, especially if the infection affects the pulp which forms part of the tooth and has important nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. If the infection gets worse, it can spread into your brain causing much more damage.

What are some of the symptoms of an infected tooth?

  • Gnawing or throbbing toothache
  • Pain when eating
  • Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Sensitivity to pressure
  • Bitter taste in the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Swelling in the gums
  • Swelling in the jaw
  • Fever

What are some recommended antibiotics for a tooth infection?

The type of antibiotic you’ll need depends on the type of bacteria causing the infection. Different classes of antibiotics have different ways of attacking bacteria. Your dentist will want to choose an antibiotic that can effectively eliminate your infection. Antibiotics such as penicillin and amoxicillin are most commonly used to help treat tooth infections. If you’re allergic to penicillin (which some people are) be sure to tell your dentist. Erythromycin is an alternative to penicillin and can be prescribed in its place. Information about dosage and how to take the medication will be given to you by your local pharmacist; however you’ll typically need to take antibiotics for about a week.

What are some natural remedies for a tooth infection?

If you have an allergic reaction to penicillin or are looking for holistic ways to treat infections – here’s a list that may be beneficial. Just to be clear, these natural remedies may deter the infection from spreading, but you should always consult your dentist right away just to be safe.

Some natural remedies include:

  • Salt water rinse: rinsing your mouth with salt water promotes wound healing, healthy gums and is an affordable alternative to seeing the dentist
  • Baking soda: great for removing excess plaque, it also has antibacterial properties
  • Oregano, clove and/or thyme oil: known to be antibacterial and anti-oxidizing, these oils all contain anti-inflammatory properties to help relieve pain
  • Cold compress packs: reduce swelling and numbs the pain
  • Garlic: rubbing a clove of garlic on the infected area will reduce the pain and kill bacteria

If you’re having symptoms of a tooth infection, such as persistent throbbing pain, swelling and sensitivity to temperature or pressure, see a doctor or dentist as soon as possible. If your dentist prescribes antibiotics, follow the instructions carefully and finish the prescription. Even if the infection seems mild, it can quickly become serious without proper treatment.

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