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Antibiotics for a Toothache Infection

author image Gail Morris
Gail Morris has been writing extensively since 1997. She completed a master's degree in nursing at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and practiced in medicine for more than 20 years. Morris has published medical articles in peer-reviewed journals and now writes for various online publications and freelances for Internet marketers.
Antibiotics for a Toothache Infection
Antibiotics can treat infections in the bone and gum but cannot penetrate the deep canals of the tooth. Photo Credit hoozone/iStock/Getty Images


An infection in a tooth can result from trauma, a complication of tooth decay or as a result of a dead tooth. The infection can be present in the pulp inside the tooth, the bone around the end of the tooth or the gum tissue. Even though antibiotics will kill invading bacteria, they will not be able to penetrate inside a dead tooth. This gives the bacteria a place to hide in the open canals where the antibiotics cannot reach. Many of the bacteria are also resistant to antibiotics, which means that even a small infection can potentially become serious if the bacteria are allowed to grow out of control. Infections in the bone around the tooth or in the gum tissue can be treated successfully with antibiotics.


According to MyNewSmile.com, erythromycin may be prescribed when a tooth abscess or tooth infection is present. Dentists recommend that individuals take all of the antibiotic for the prescribed length of time in order to reduce the potential that antibiotic-resistant bacteria will develop, significantly impacting the ability of the antibiotic to effectively treat the infection. Women taking birth control medications should be aware that antibiotics can render these less reliable. Erythromycin may cause an allergic reaction, which must be reported to the individual’s physician.


According to MyNewSmile.com, cephalosporins may be prescribed to treat a tooth infection. This classification of drugs will disrupt the production of cell walls in the bacteria and cause them to die. Common reactions include diarrhea, nausea and a rash. When the medication is given as an injection, the individual may experience pain or inflammation at the injection site. This antibiotic will also kill some of the bacteria in the intestines, leading to diarrhea. Individuals can prevent this by including active live yogurt cultures in their diet, according to AskDrSears.com.


One brand name of metronidazole is Flagyl, which is commonly used for yeast infections and oral infections. According to Drugs.com, individuals who are allergic or pregnant should discuss other options with their physicians. Individuals who have liver disease, intestinal disease, blood cell disorders, epilepsy or nerve disorders may also need to consider another antibiotic choice. Individuals should avoid drinking alcohol for at least three days after stopping the medication because of the side effects that can ensue. Less serious side effects can include nausea, diarrhea, headache, vaginal itching or discharge, dry mouth, coughing, sneezing or runny nose, notes Drugs.com.


Amoxicillin is the generic name for a medication in the penicillin family. Individuals who are allergic to any penicillin-based antibiotic or cephalosporin antibiotic should alert their physicians so another choice may be made. Amoxicillin can be taken with or without food and comes as a suspension for children and in pill form. According to Drugs.com, less serious side effects include nausea; headache; vaginal itching; thrush; or a swollen, black or hairy tongue. Amoxicillin will interfere with the efficiency of several other drugs, including methotrexate, sulfa drugs, tetracycline-based antibiotics and erythromycin-based antibiotics, adds Drugs.com.

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