Antibiotics for an Abscessed Tooth

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Antibiotics for an Abscessed Tooth


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How It Works

Antibiotics kill bacteria and are used to fight many types of infections. Antibiotics for an abscessed tooth are given in pill (oral) form, usually for a 7- to 10-day period.

Why It Is Used

A bacterial infection that causes an abscessed tooth must be treated to kill or prevent the further growth of bacteria, because a continuing bacterial infection may cause more serious disease, such as cellulitis. Antibiotics are used along with other treatment, which may include opening the root canal to drain the source of the abscess, lancing a swelling (gumboil) next to the tooth, or removing the tooth (extraction).

How Well It Works

Antibiotic treatment of an abscessed tooth, when used along with either a root canal treatment or extraction, is effective at stopping a bacterial infection in the jaw.

If the antibiotic is not effective at killing the bacteria, or if you do not take the antibiotic for a long enough period of time, the bacterial infection may return.

Side Effects

Serious but rare side effects of antibiotics include:

Common but mild side effects of antibiotics include:

Diarrhea and vaginal yeast infections sometimes occur when antibiotics destroy some of the normal and necessary bacteria that live in the body. Eating yogurt may help prevent these side effects.

If you get diarrhea while taking an antibiotic, contact your doctor to find out whether you should continue the medicine or try a different medicine. Do not abruptly stop the antibiotic.

Some antibiotics may increase your sensitivity to sunlight (photophobia). Avoid prolonged sun exposure while taking antibiotics.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

It is important to take all of the antibiotics your dentist prescribes. Keep taking the medicine until it is gone, even after you start to feel better. Otherwise your bacterial infection may return.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Steven K. Patterson, BS, DDS, MPH - Dentistry
Last Revised April 7, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.