Is it advisable to presribe an antibiotic if a molar hurts?
- On January 29, 2021
F came to my dental clinic with a toothache that she described as stabbing – especially when she was drinking cold water. Afterwards, she would experience a very sharp pain that remained for a few seconds after drinking. Previously, F had visited her family doctor, and she was prescribed an antibiotic, but the pain remained even after more than 5 days.
It is very common for doctors to prescribe antibiotics to treat alleged oral infections – however, not all that glitters is gold! When it comes to toothaches, the prescription of antibiotics should be avoided, unless it is absolutely necessary and we are sure that we are facing a bacterial infection. To do this, it is necessary to understand some of the patient’s symptoms: for example, in the case of F, it was possible that the pain she experienced when eating/drinking something hot or cold was not due to an infection; in most cases, the pain that is experienced due to thermal stimulus can be solved without having to take any antibiotics.
The big problem with self-medication or the prescription of antibiotics is bacterial resistance. Bacteria are organisms capable of defending themselves against antibiotics by developing defences that make them immune to antibiotics, which makes them more difficult to eradicate. That is the main reason why neither doctors nor dentists should prescribe any medication without being sure that there is an actual bacterial infection.
Notwithstanding that antibiotics also have undesired side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, opportunistic infections, diarrhoea or allergies.
The major issue with bacterial resistance is that those bacteria that are difficult to destroy can transmit to others the genetic information that made them resistant to an antibiotic.
This represents a major therapeutic challenge, since easily treatable infections develop into fatal illnesses in the face of conventional antibiotics.
Therefore, if you want to help your dentist and your doctor to fight against bacterial resistance, avoid taking antibiotics without medical prescription and follow your dentist’s instructions.
F suffered from reversible pulpitis, which only required local therapy and a single dental treatment – no antibiotics were needed. Talk with your dentist about your symptoms, he can help you.