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Antibiotics for a Tooth Infection

I have a tooth infection and I’m worried that my dentist gave me the wrong antibiotic. I went in and he gave me Keflex that I was on for 5 days. I was better at first but then it seemed to flare back up again. I’m in a lot of pain and the swelling is past my cheek up to my eye now. What antibiotic should I be taking?


Dear Kevin,

A man grabbing his jaw in pain for a tooth infection.

I am glad you wrote because you are in a dangerous situation at the moment. Either there has been a miscommunication or your dentist has a fundamental lack of understanding on how tooth infections work. Antibiotics do not “cure” a tooth infection. They simply hold it at bay until you can get the treatment you need to get rid of the infection. The only way to cure an infected tooth is by removing the infected pulp. There are two ways to achieve that. The first is with a root canal treatment. This is the ideal solution because it means you can save your tooth.

Your second option is to extract the tooth. This should be a last resort because you will need to replace the tooth, which is an additional expense. The best tooth replacement, dental implants, requires you to have surgery. The second best, a dental bridge, requires you to grind down two additional, healthy teeth.

Why Tooth Infections are Serious

When a tooth infection is left untreated, as yours currently is, they will continue to spread. Yours has already reached your eye socket. What you don’t want is that infection reaching your brain. Then, what was a dental emergency is now life threatening. Even in this current modern age, people still die from tooth infections. And it is completely preventable.

If your dentist did not mention anything about a follow up treatment, I would be concerned about his or her understanding of tooth infections. At this point, you need a root canal treatment as quickly as possible. I would call an endodontist and explain the situation. Hopefully, they can get you in right away.

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