Antibiotics for Dentistry: When Are They Necessary?

Antibiotics are generally used to treat bacterial infections in the body, and sometimes they are used as “prophylaxis.” In other words, antibiotics may be used to pre-empt any infections that may occur following any situation that your physician deems as a risk for your health. Yet, there are a variety of situations where antibiotics are not necessary and may even harm you more than help you. Therefore, it’s always best to listen to your doctor’s advice when it comes to medications.

When Are Antibiotics Harmful Instead of Helpful?

The following situations may cause antibiotics to be more of a danger than a benefit to the body, when a patient:

1. Doesn’t follow the doctor’s directions (non-compliance): Bacteria have the potential to become antibiotic-resistant, making it much harder to treat an illness. Antibiotic-resistance refers to the phenomenon when bacteria “outsmart” the antibiotics and learn how to fight them off. Antibiotic-resistance is common in cases where the full course of antibiotics isn’t finished (for example, a doctor prescribes 2 pills 2 times a day for seven days, but the patient only takes 2 pills 2 times a day for five days and stops). In this case, antibiotics are certainly more harmful than they are helpful, because the remaining bacteria now know how the antibiotics work and can multiply knowing how to fight off the antibiotics designed to kill them.

2. Has allergies to the antibiotics: Having allergies to medications is very common, but when these allergies are ignored or unknown to the patient, an allergic reaction could ensue.

3. Gets prescribed antibiotics too often: Taking antibiotics too often may also cause antibiotic-resistance in the body. This makes it harder for doctors to pinpoint which antibiotic will work for a future ailment, lengthening the amount of time between your diagnosis and your recovery. This is another reason why it is important to listen to your doctor if they tell you that you don’t need antibiotics.

What Kinds of Scenarios Warrant Antibiotics?

Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics in the following situations/procedures:

1. Before a procedure: In the case that a patient has a pre-existing condition or a weakened immune system, antibiotics may be prescribed before a procedure. This is done so that the level of medication is already in your bloodstream working its magic before the procedure is even done. In this scenario, antibiotics are considered as a method of prophylaxis.

2. After a procedure to further treat an infection: If your dentist thinks that antibiotics will help to further heal an infection, they may prescribe them for you to take following your treatment.

3. If a patient shows visible signs of infection: In certain cases, a dentist is able to see physical signs of infection upon examination of your mouth such as swelling, drainage of pus, pain and swollen lymph nodes among other symptoms. To prevent the spread of infection and heal your mouth, the dentist may prescribe antibiotics.

To learn more about antibiotics and their use in dentistry, visit this page published by the CDC. Advanced DDS is a full-service dental practice in Long Island, NY where our team of highly qualified dentists offer a compassionate and comfortable dental experience. Schedule your dental consultation at 516-825-1100.

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