Antibiotic Names and Their Use in Dentistry

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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 in 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 mouth bacteria under control, swish with a rinse like Colgate Total Advanced Pro-Shield mouthwash. It kills 99 percent of bacteria on contact and helps reduce aerosolized oral bacteria when used as a pre-procedural rinse.

Knowing antibiotic names and uses is sometimes required before or after dental treatment. The right type and dosage of antibiotic goes a long way in assuring optimum oral health and smiles for a lifetime.

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