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Dentists routinely prescribe antibiotics. They may do this prior to treatment when a patient has a medical condition that could be made worse by dental treatment from the normal bacteria found in the mouth. Some procedures also require antibiotics as part of aftercare.

Antibiotic Names in Dentistry

Dentists have a selection of antibiotics that may be appropriate for treatment, including:

  • Penicillin
  • Amoxicillin
  • Clindamycin
  • Cephalexin
  • Azithromycin

Penicillin and amoxicillin are the most common antibiotics used in dentistry. For patients who are allergic to either, a dentist may prescribe clindamycin or cephalexin, which are stronger and treat a broader spectrum of infections. They’re also options for people who can’t take antibiotics orally. For sinus infections involving the teeth, azithromycin is usually used.

Other combinations of antibiotics may be needed, depending on the severity and location of the infection.

When Antibiotics Are Needed

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a dentist may prescribe antibiotics before treatment — called prophylactic antibiotics — to prevent normal mouth bacteria from causing problems. This may be necessary for certain people with conditions such as cardiac problems or a compromised immune system. Antibiotics may also be necessary if a person has a medical device like a catheter, shunt or joint with prosthetic material.

Antibiotics are prescribed after treatment if the doctor thinks that an infection present at that time could potentially delay healing. Antibiotics are also used after a procedure if treating the dental problem alone is not sufficient for the infection to go away.

Dosage and Side Effects of Common Antibiotics in Dentistry

Dosages of antibiotics can vary by the strength of the antibiotic and how many times per day it needs to be taken. Most dosages are prescribed considering the type of infection present, its severity and what dose the manufacturer has proven the most effective.

Occasionally, side effects occur from the use of antibiotics, such as nausea, dizziness and vomiting. In rare occasions, a patient can have an allergy to a particular drug. Medical treatment may be necessary to relieve those symptoms. Always inform your dentist of your known drug allergies before undergoing any procedure.

Home Care

For keeping your mouth healthy on your own, good home care is always recommended. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once per day, as well as keeping on top of regular checkup appointments with your dentist and professional teeth cleanings.