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SW Nebraska Dental Center

Antibiotics & Dentistry

June 22, 2021
Posted By: Kaitlin Haag

Antibiotics and Dentistry


    Antibiotics are medicines that fight bacterial infections. They have saved the lives of many people who would have otherwise succumbed to illnesses such as tuberculosis. But they have their limitations too. Antibiotics are not a cure all; they cannot be used to treat viral infections like the common cold or fungal infections like thrush. And not all antibiotics can be used to treat all bacterial infections. This is why it is so important for your dentist and doctor to get a thorough medical history and do an examination. 

    Most people think that when they get a dental infection, they need an antibiotic to treat the infection. The only way to thoroughly address these dental infections is through surgical means like a root canal or an extraction if the tooth is not restorable. There are certain situations where antibiotics are warranted. These can include fever, swollen glands, extreme tiredness, or swelling in the face.

    As with any medication, there are risks associated with antibiotics. Two of the biggest risks are unwanted side effects and antibiotic resistance.

  • Side effects of antibiotics

    • Diarrhea

      • Some cases are so bad that people end up being hospitalized

    • Yeast infection

      • Fungal infection

    • Nausea

    • Vomiting

  • Antibiotic resistance

    • Bacteria can evolve to become resistant when exposed to antibiotics

    • Can be related to improper use of antibiotics

      • For example, taking antibiotics that were prescribed for something else or for someone else

      • Taking antibiotics when not needed

        • Viral or fungal infections

        • Refusing treatment for dental infections and insisting on antibiotics

    • Resistant bacteria can spread from the site of the infection to other areas in the body and become very difficult to treat and can even result in death.

    • Antibiotic resistant bacteria can spread from person to person.

    • We now have bacteria that have evolved to become resistant to very strong antibiotics

      • MRSA – Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus

      • VRSA – Vanycomycin resistant Staphylococcus aureus


If you think you might have a dental infection, make an appointment to get it evaluated.

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