How are antibiotics helping your tooth pain?

reusing medicine

Written by Dr. Krupa Patil

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Feb 3, 2024

Written by Dr. Krupa Patil

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Feb 3, 2024

The advancements brought in antibiotics by scientist has been a great asset to the medical world as they have treated millions of people from their ailments. They play an important role in the treatment of infectious diseases pre-treatment and post-treatment too. But, on the other hand, due to the easy availability of these drugs, there has been an overuse of these antibiotics for decades now.

With the easy availability of these drugs in pharmacy stores, the general population can just randomly ask for the medication related to the pain they are suffering and pop in the pill without any prescription from the doctor. It should be kept in mind that each individual’s body can react to medication differently. 

By focusing on and treating the underlying bacterial infection that may be the source of the pain, antibiotics can treat tooth pain. Bacteria can enter a tooth’s pulp and produce inflammation, which results in pain and discomfort when the tooth gets infected. Either directly killing the bacteria or preventing their growth and reproduction is how antibiotics operate. Antibiotics can lessen swelling and ease tooth discomfort by eradicating the infection. It’s crucial to remember that not all dental problems can be solved by antibiotics alone; in certain cases, further dental care, including root canal therapy or tooth extraction, may be required.

Antibiotic for tooth pain

Why does your dentist prescribe antibiotics?

Dental pain originates from the innervated tissues of a tooth or the adjacent tissues. This pain may be arising due to severe dental decay, dental abscess, gum originating, or sometimes may be odontogenic ( bone-related) in nature. When such patients visit the clinic, the dentist first tries to control the pain the individual is suffering by prescribing antibiotics that help reduce the infection which is the main reason for the pain to arise in the first place. Painkillers are given to relieve the pain and antacids to prevent acidity caused by antibiotics.

Your dentist generally prescribes you antibiotics when your toothache is associated with a severe headache and pain in the nearby regions of the jaw. Another scenario where antibiotics are prescribed is when the patient has to undergo tooth extractions, root canal treatment or any other periodontal surgeries. Pre and post-surgical antibiotics are also given for successful treatment and a better outcome. Antibiotics are also given to avoid any susceptible post-surgery infections.

The antibiotics given to adults are not the same for younger patients, they are given medicines taking into consideration various factors. The most commonly used drugs are Amoxicillin, metronidazole, clavulanic acid, pan 40, etc. Most commonly dentists prescribe antibiotics, painkillers, and antacids together.

Antacids to avoid acidity

Antibiotics when consumed increase the acid present in the gut which may lead to heartburn and even indigestion. In order to avoid this antacids are prescribed especially when you are already prone to severe acidity. Antacids curb the increased acid level of the guts and cool the gut. Your dentist may or may not prescribe you antacids depending on your case and the dose of the antibiotic as well. Antacids may not be required in cases where lower doses of antibiotics are prescribed.


Do not share your prescription

When an individual is relieved of pain there is a tendency that the same prescription might be shared with their near and dear ones, but the result might not be the same and end up with the person having rashes, nausea or diarrhea or any other severe side effects. The repetition of the same drugs time and over again, may reduce the tendency of the micro-organism to die because they become antibiotic-resistant.

No matter how many pills you take in a day, the disease will not regress if the same antibiotics are consumed. This inappropriate use of antibiotics for the common cold and normal body ache is the common cause of drug resistance. However, the extensive use of chemicals in livestock and poultry also adds to the drugs being resistant to micro-organisms. Regularly popping over-the-counter painkillers from medical stores increases the dependence of the individual physically and psychologically on the painkillers. If these over-the-counter medicines are not taken on a daily basis by the person they may undergo depression or various mood swings.

However, whenever a prescription is advised to the patient, it is mandatory for the patient to stick to that prescription and complete the course within the given time period. This is because your dentist has an overall idea about your health and hence wants the best results to be seen for his treatment. The medicines prescribed are according to the patient’s weight, medical history, tolerance level; little dose can be ineffective to the person consuming the painkiller or may prove heavy dose for some. This may hamper the life of the person. 

Do not reuse your medicines

The same medicines should not be used as the medicines might have been expired or the dosage of the medicine for the particular micro-organism might not work again as this micro-organism has evolved over time and become resistant to the drugs. The patient should not change the medicines according to his liking or according to the suggestions of others as this may endanger the life of the individual. It is the duty of the doctor to increase the dose for the patient taking into consideration the side effects of the particular antibiotic.

medicine reuses

Many factors play an important role in the consumption of drugs, they are financial background, clinicians’ knowledge, and advertising by the medicine companies. The way these companies portray their medicine in advertisements tends the consumer to purchase the medicine without any knowledge about the mechanism of action or how the drug can act differently for everyone.

Missing doses and the return of dental pain

Once the dentist prescribes the medicines, it is the patient’s responsibility to take the medicines and complete the course within the given time. This is because antibiotics do not work effectively when you miss your doses. The bacteria causing the infection becomes resistant to the medicines within the break time. So you cannot actually miss or take your doses at your convenience. Hence it is necessary to take medicines as and when prescribed by the dentist if you want to get rid of your sufferings. If you miss out on your doses and the pain comes back to haunt you, higher doses of antibiotics are prescribed for better healing without any complications.

Trusting your dentist and following the instructions will help cure and prevent most of the dental complications. Antibiotics help cure dental infections but overusing them can be harmful as well. To avoid any severe side-effects, antibiotics should not be taken by patients when told by others they should be consumed only when it is directly told by a doctor



  • Popping painkillers for everything is not the answer.
  • Antibiotics do help to cure and reduce dental infections, but taking antibiotics over time can make the bacteria resistant to the antibiotic and have no effect.
  • At times even home remedies do not show any effect. That’s when antibiotics, painkiller and antacids work synergistically and relieve your tooth pain.
  • Do not circulate the same prescription to your friends and family.
  • Effect shown on one individual can’t be the same on the other person.
  • Your dentist knows the best. Trust your dentist and avoid using over the counter medicines from the medical stores.
  • Antibiotics, painkillers and antacids work hand in hand. 
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Author Bio: Krupa Patil is currently working as an intern in School of Dental Sciences, KIMSDU, Karad. She has been nominated for the Pierre Fauchard Award from School of Dental Sciences. She has one article published in a journal which is PubMed indexed and currently working on one patent and two design patents. 4 copyrights are also present under name. She has a hobby of reading, writing about different aspects of dentistry and is a vivid traveler. She continuously seeks out training and professional development opportunities that allow her to remain aware and knowledgeable about new dental practices and latest technology is being considered or used.

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