List of Antibiotics for Tooth Infection (9 Side Effects)

In this blog we are going to learn about how antibiotics work in a tooth infection and what are the best antibiotics for tooth infection as well.

Antibiotics For Tooth Infection

Tooth infection is one of the most painful and frustrating conditions to be in. Anyone who has suffered or is currently suffering from a tooth infection knows how frustrating and troublesome it can be to have a tooth infection. The pain and discomfort associated with a tooth infection can be highly excruciating, especially when this pain worsens at night when all you want to do is to hit the bed and have a good night sleep. 

If you have ever visited your dentist for a tooth infection that is causing pain, chances are that your dentist must have prescribed antibiotics to you. With the use of those antibiotics, your infection would have subsided and the pain would have also stopped. This is how potent and effective antibiotics are for tooth infection. 

Whenever you visit a dentist with an infected tooth, the dentist will surely prescribe antibiotics as they are the first line of treatment to control the infection. Not just a tooth infection, any bacterial or other microorganism caused infection requires antibiotics for management.

With the discovery of the first antibiotic, penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928, began the revolutionization of the world of medicine. Today, there are more than thousands of commercially available antibiotics for curing various kinds of infections. Research is still being done to discover newer antibiotics with less side effects and better anti microbial activities. Read this article to know more about the history of antibiotics.

Which Tooth Infection Needs Antibiotics?

A painful tooth infection is one of many other infections of the human body which require some kind of antibiotics for infection management. Without the use of antibiotics, it might be difficult to control the bacterial growth and a dental treatment may not yield the desired results, ultimately compromising the prognosis. 

Before an infected tooth is treated with a dental procedure, it is necessary to have antibiotic coverage so as to keep the growth of bacteria in check and subsequently to stop the flaring up of infection.

A tooth which is painful, especially the one which has pus underneath, also known as periapical abscess, needs antibiotics. Also, a tooth which has suffered trauma, like fracture or avulsion also needs antibiotics as prophylaxis. A tooth with periapical abscess requires antibiotic coverage to reduce the quantity of pus underneath and to stop the infection from spreading.

With the use of antibiotics the inflammation and infection in the area will come down and the pain associated with it will also get better. This way the dental treatment will be more comfortable and the results will be better too. 

Without antibiotics, performing a dental procedure increases the risk of spread of infection and also, local anesthesia to numb the infected tooth does not work. Therefore, it is necessary for an infected tooth to be treated with antibiotics and painkillers as an adjunct to the dental procedure.

What Is The Role Of Antibiotics?

Bacteria is broadly classified as gram negative and gram positive bacteria. Both these variants are different from each other and require different kinds of antibiotics. A gram negative bacteria strain is the one that usually does not require oxygen for survival, meaning that they can survive in anaerobic or oxygen deprived conditions, like the innermost layers of calculus deposit on the teeth. This type of bacteria is the most notorious one and is responsible for causing complex diseases like pneumonia. Gram negative bacteria have shown to develop resistance faster as compared to gram positive bacteria, which has been making the scientist worry.

Gram positive bacteria, on the other hand, is the one which survives only in aerobic conditions and requires oxygen for its survival. This type of bacteria has a thick cell wall, which is lacking in gram negative strain of bacteria. Gram negative bacteria have a thin cell wall.

When we eat antibiotics as per the dose prescribed, it gets into our bloodstream and  travels to various parts of the body. Upon reaching the infection site, the antibiotics start attacking the bacteria present there. 

The constant attack which can only happen if antibiotics are taken according to the dose prescribed, will ultimately break the cell wall of the bacteria and sperive ot of nutrition, ultimately killing the bacteria. This way the bacteria will die and all the existing pus and infection will start drying too.

The important thing to remember here is that it is vital to take the right kind of antibiotic. If an antibiotic meant for gram positive bacteria is taken when your infection is caused by gram negative bacteria, it will have no effect on the infection. Similarly, an antibiotic for gram negative bacteria will have no effect on gram positive bacteria. The bacteria will thrive just like before and the infection will keep getting worse. 

However, these days antibiotics with broad spectrum, meaning that they are effective on both strains of bacteria have been developed and a single antibiotic is effective on both.

In some conditions your dentist might give you a combination of two antibiotics to target both the strains of bacteria. At times if antibiotics are not working on the infection or are working too slowly, your dentist might want to do a culture test in order to determine the kind of bacteria causing the infection and then prescribe the antibiotic accordingly.

What Is The Best Antibiotic For Tooth Infection?

American Dental Association (ADA)

  • Amoxycillin
  • Azithromycin
  • Clindamycin
  • Penicillin
  • Cephalexin

As mentioned earlier, the dose recommendations of each antibiotic is different and it is important to take the medication according to the dosage to have the best benefits out of it. The recommended dosage for Amoxicillin, if a person is not allergic to penicillin is 500mg thrice a day for 3 to 7 days. The recommended dosage for penicillin is 500 mg, four times a day for 3 to 7 days.

If a person has a history of allergic reactions to amoxicillin or penicillin like rashes and hives, azithromycin can be taken, with a dose of 500mg as the loading dose on day one and 250mg for the next 4 days. Similarly, clindamycin is to be taken in a dose of 300mg four times a day for 3 to 7 days.

In case these first line drugs fail to have an effect on the tooth infection, other antibiotics and their combinations can be taken in such a situation. Amoxicillin with a combination of clavulanate acid or metronidazole is one such extremely potent and popular combination. This combination is of the best broad spectrum antibiotics in the market as it is effective against both gram negative and gram positive bacteria. Augmentin is a popular combination of amoxicillin with clavulanic acid.

What Are The Side Effects Of Antibiotics?

Like any drug, antibiotics have their side effects too. Antibiotics kill both the good and bad bacteria in our body, this means that sling with the infection causing bacteria, the good bacteria get killed too. This can lead to other symptoms that may cause some discomfort. There following are some of the most commonly encountered side effects of oral antibiotics:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Rashes
  • Acne
  • Acidity
  • Yeast infection
  • Oral ulcers

These side effects are temporary and usually subside in a few days. However, if you feel that you are experiencing any exacerbated form of these side effects, speak with your dentist immediately so that they may be able to decide if the medicine needs to be stopped and any other alternative medication is to be prescribed or not. 

What Is Antibiotic Resistance?

As mentioned earlier, it is imperative to stick to the recommended dosage of antibiotics in order for them to have their effects and kill the infection. If this is not done, a person can develop antibiotic resistance, meaning that the antibiotic will not be able to kill the bacteria as the bacteria have developed a resistance against it and the medicine will fail to have its effects. 

The most common reason for developing resistance to a particular antibiotic is not taking the recommended dose. When we stop the antibiotic on our own and do not complete the entire course of medication, the bacteria initially become weak and then develop immunity against the medicine as the dosage was stopped beforehand and the final killing effect of the medicine did not take place. 

This leads to development of antibiotic resistance, which is a matter of concern for doctors and scientists all over the word lately. Therefore, it is essential to complete the dose of antibiotic and stick to the prescribed dosage.

Do not stop taking your medication midway even if you notice that your symptoms have subsided. The symptoms may have stopped but the entire infection will only finish once the complete action of antibiotics takes place.

Frequently Asked Questions (Antibiotics For Tooth Infection)

Will antibiotics stop tooth infection pain?

You may need to take a painkiller along with antibiotics to ease the pain. However the painkiller and antibiotics will only suppress the infection temporarily and once the effects of the medicines wear off, theinfection will relapse. The only permanent solution to tooth infection is to get dental treatment done.

How long does it take antibiotics to work on tooth infection?

Most people feel a relief from their symptoms within 48 hours of starting with antibiotics. However, it is important to take the medicine till the recommended time in order to have the best results.

Can I take Ibuprofen with amoxicillin?

Yes, Ibuprofen can be taken with amoxicillin. However, if you have a previous history of allergy to ibuprofen or a history of asthma, do not take this medicine, as it can trigger an asthamaic attack in people who suffer from asthma.

Can I take amoxicillin on an empty stomach?

It is advisable to take amoxicillin on a full stomach and not on an empty stomach as taking this medicine on an empty stomach can lead to acidity and gastric upset.

Does amoxicillin make you sleepy?

No, amoxicillin usually does not make a person sleepy. However, it is common to feel tired after taking a heavy dose of antibiotics. If you feel that you are experiencing extreme sleepiness after taking amoxicillin, discuss this with your healthcare provider. 


Even though antibiotics are safe in tooth infection and help to clear out the tooth infection, this effect is only temporary. The infection will return after some time and at one point medicines stop having an effect on a long standing infection. A tooth infection should not be ignored and under no circumstances should a person self medicate. The best and the only permanent solution for a tooth infection is to get a proper dental procedure done to cure the tooth infection completely.

Other FAQs about Teeth Infection that you may be interested in.

Best Mouthwash For Tooth Infection 

Can you catch a tooth infection from kissing?

Will Listerine Kill Tooth Infection?


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