Dentists sometimes prescribe antibiotics as part of root canal treatments. While this isn't always necessary, your dentist will recommend antibiotics in certain cases. When does this happen and why?
Antibiotics Before Treatment
You may be told to take antibiotics when your dentist diagnoses that you need a root canal before you have the tooth treated. For example, your dentist may feel that antibiotics are needed in the following situations:
- You can't have the tooth treated immediately to remove the infection, either because you or your dentist aren't available at short notice. In this case, your dentist prescribes antibiotics to stop the infection from getting worse or from spreading to other areas.
- The abscess is causing you significant pain and swelling both in the tooth and other areas of your face, and your dentist thinks that the infection has spread. In this instance, your dentist isn't just using antibiotics to target the root canal but to also deal with other areas of infection that may not be cleaned up during treatment.
If your dentist can treat your root canal quickly and the abscess isn't a major problem, then you'll probably go straight into treatment without antibiotics. Often, you won't need antibiotics after the treatment either. However, it there is a problem, you may get a prescription at this stage.
Antibiotics After Treatment
Root canal treatment cleans out the infection that was giving you problems by removing the infected root. Typically, once this infection is out of the tooth, you should be fine.
Sometimes, however, your dentist may suspect during treatment that the abscess has spread outside of the working site. For example, they may think it has leaked into parts of your bone around the tooth. If this happens, your dentist will give you a prescription for antibiotics once your root canal is sorted out to deal with any remaining problems.
Remember that dentists don't prescribe antibiotics for general root canal pain relief. They only ask you to take these medications if there is the chance of any infection remaining in your mouth. Your dentist will tell you how to manage any pain you have after the treatment with regular painkillers such as paracetamol or anti-inflammatories.
Any pain you do have should clear up in a couple of days with over-the-counter painkillers. If your pain gets worse or you experience swelling after your root canals, contact your dentist for advice today.