Should I Use Antibiotics To Treat a Dental Abscess?


A tooth abscess occurs when a bacterial infection creates a pocket of pus in the tooth’s pulp space. This is due to a deep decay, chip or fracture in your tooth that allows the bacteria to ‘invade’. Since this dental problem involves an infection, the question may arise as to whether it should be treated using antibiotics. Funnily enough, the answer is both yes and no.


How does a tooth abscess occur?

A tooth abscess will occur when bacteria inhabits the tooth’s pulp space. It can develop either at the apex or tip of the root. This creates an infection which is too strong for the body’s immune system to fight. When this happens, a collection of pus will appear at the function between our body’s helpful immune cells and the harmful bacteria will now be located inside the tooth’s root.

What happens next?

At the point where bacteria and therefore infection is growing, the dental abscess can become painful as it begins to swell. Swelling will put pressure on the surrounding tissue, causing discomfort. Fortunately, there are a times when the abscess may drain itself. In this case, the body will create a small pimple-like spot on the gum in order to drain the pus effectively. Don’t worry, this is your body’s normal infection defence mechanism, even if it does sound a little yucky!

Treating a dental abscess

If you suspect that you may have an abscess, it’s extremely important that you visit your dentist immediately. If your dentist confirms it is an abscess, they will begin treatment with the goal of draining it. This reduces and ultimately removes the infection. In some cases, it may be possible to save the tooth by means of a root canal. But, in other cases, the tooth may need to be extracted. Most importantly, leaving the abscess untreated can lead to serious complications that can even become life threatening. Therefore it is important to see your dentist as soon as you suspect infection may be present.

So, antibiotics?

Antibiotics will be prescribed to treat symptoms of an abscess, such as lessening pain by reducing the infection and the surrounding pressure. However, antibiotics won’t be able to completely remove the infection without further treatment. For example, Whether it is a root canal procedure or having the infected tooth extracted, antibiotics can be used prior to get the infection under control, prior to the necessary dental procedure. This allows the anaesthetic to work more effectively, depending on the situation.

Essentially, using antibiotics can be useful for treating swelling and pain associated with a tooth abscess, but is definitely not a permanent treatment. In addition, taking antibiotics for a long period of time is not advised as it can be detrimental to your health and have serious side effects.

If you think you may be experiencing any of the above conditions book a consultation with Dr Kate Amos or Dr Sam Rosehill at Ethical Dental on 6652 3185 or book online.


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