Scroll Top

Why Antibiotics Don’t Cure Tooth Infections

Oral health is vitally important to your overall health. When you are suffering from a tooth infection, you may want an easy solution, such as a course of antibiotics. However, antibiotics won’t cure your tooth infection.

Oral bacterial infections cause abscesses, which are small pockets of pus and dead tissue in the mouth. Often times they look like swollen tissue or a pimple on your gums. This usually occurs near the base of the tooth where the roots are. Tooth decay due to poor oral hygiene, failing dental work, trauma or a cracked tooth are ways bacteria can infect your tooth. When bacteria enter the roots, they use your nerve tissue and blood vessels as a food source. They begin to multiply and spread, and the result is a dental infection.

At this point, most patients believe antibiotics are necessary, however, your endodontist knows differently. Due to the anatomy of the tooth, bacteria become trapped in the roots. Without proper cleaning, such as through root canal therapy, the infection will remain and potentially spread to the jaw or even the brain. A draining, cleaning, or possibly even tooth extraction is needed to fully remove a bacterial tooth infection.

Why not antibiotics? There are several reasons antibiotics alone will not cure the infection. The blood vessels that once supplied the inside of the tooth with your body’s antibacterial defenses have been destroyed. Therefore, the antibiotics cannot reach the inside of the tooth to cure your infection.

Additionally, there are many kinds of antibiotics and each attack specific types of bacteria. If the bacteria causing your infection are not covered under the spectrum of the antibiotic you are prescribed, then the infection will remain. Lastly, antibiotics do not work for fungal or viral infections.

Antibiotics carry risks, such as allergic reaction. In fact, reactions from antibiotics cause one out of six medication-related visits to the emergency room. Additionally, the continued use of antibiotics in all fields of medicine has led to many strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This type of infection can only be cured with a root canal or other procedure.

With the existing risks and a low efficacy for clearing infection, antibiotics are rarely prescribed for a tooth infection or abscess. When they are, it is important to take them as directed. They play a crucial role in stopping an infection from becoming worse. A dentist or endodontist may therefore prescribe an antibiotic when the infection is severe, it has spread into the jaw, or if the patient has a weakened immune system.

Symptoms of a tooth infection include pain, swelling, a visual abscess inside the mouth, tooth sensitivity, bitter taste or bad breath that won’t go away, and fever. If you recognize these symptoms, call Central Ohio Endodontics today. The longer you wait, the larger the infection will become. Don’t delay. See an endodontist at Central Ohio Endodontics for your infected tooth.