Why would a dentist prescribe antibiotics?

A person sitting with their dentist, holding a prescription.

Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics for different reasons.

Antibiotics preventbacteria from multiplying. Some bacteria in the body are harmless, but the harmful ones can affect any organ, including the mouth.

Antibiotics can offer relief from oral bacterial infectionsbut not dental issues caused by viruses. The type of antibiotic you need depends on the type of bacteria infecting your mouth.

Why would I need antibiotics for dental concerns?

The following dental issues may require the use of antibiotic treatment:

1.Tooth decay and cavities

Poor oral hygiene habits can cause harmful bacteria to spread in the mouth. These bacteria combine with acids and invade tooth surfaces. Without proper treatment, it can lead to decay and cavities.

The tooth weakens and becomes more vulnerable when bacteria attack it. The nerves of the tooth can become exposed, which can lead to severe pain or more dental issues.

Note that having cavities doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need antibiotics. There are other possible options and long-term solutions to treat cavities.

For instance, your dentist may recommend getting dental fillings or crowns. Advanced cases may require a root canal procedure to take bacteria out of the tooth.


Toothaches can occur for various reasons. Your dentist may recommend an extraction if the damage is way beyond repair and other dental treatments won’t be enough.

Making changes to your daily habits can also prevent or ease toothaches. This includes boosting your dental care routine and limiting your intake of sugary and starchy food.

3.Dental surgery

Oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and make their way to other body parts.

Your dentist may prescribe an antibiotic should complications occur after dental surgery.

In some instances, they may also require it during in-office procedures, such as root canal, to get rid of bacteria in the affected area.

4.Dental abscess

A dental abscess is due to a bacterial infection. It results in a pocket of pus and the infection can spread when not treated.

Not all infections in the mouth require antibiotics. Your dentist may only recommend it if the dental infection is affecting the gums or is already severe.

Your dentist will also advise you on the proper dosage. An antibiotic must be taken exactly as prescribed as overuse may make harmful bacteria resistant.

Even if the toothache is gone, you may still need further dental treatments to fully address the issue and restore the health of your tooth.

Are antibiotics safe?

Antibiotics are safe if you take them as instructed by your dentist. Side effectssuch as vomiting and nauseacan occur. Also be sure to tell your dentist if you're allergic to antibiotics.

Only take medication that is prescribed to youand for the specific purpose intended.Even if your primary care physician recently prescribed you antibiotics for a fever, don’t assume you can take the same for your dental concerns.

Schedule a consultation with your dentist if you’re unsure whether you need antibiotics for a dental issue. They’ll evaluate your oral health and general condition before recommending any type of treatment.

If you have more questions about the use of antibiotics for dental concerns, contact us today. Our team here at Relaxation Dental is more than happy to assist you.