Does amoxicillin help with tooth infection and pain?
Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on Feb 2, 2021.
Yes, amoxicillin will help your tooth infection. Amoxicillin is one of the first antibiotics recommended for the treatment of a tooth infection. It has shown to be widely effective and have fewer gastrointestinal side effects compared to other options. Antibiotics do not relieve pain directly, but pain may be reduced as the infection is knocked out by the antibiotic.
Antibiotics are an important part of treatment. The first antibiotics prescribed are recommended because they are likely to kill the common bacteria that live in your mouth and cause infection when they get into a tooth. These front-line antibiotics include:
Other treatment in your dentist office is often needed to drain and clean the affected tooth and gum. This may include a dental procedure to drain the abscess or remove some infected pulp. In some cases, root canal or removal of a tooth is necessary.
What about pain treatment?
Until the antibiotic kills all of the infection, you may need a pain reliever. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that pain treatment start with a prescription or over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as:
In the past, dental pain was more often treated with prescription opioids, but the ADA notes that NSAIDs have been shown to be more effective for tooth pain. If an opioid is needed, a doctor or dentist will prescribe it at the lowest effective dose for a limited amount of time.
What causes a tooth infection?
Tooth infections are caused by bacteria that makes its way inside the sensitive area under your tooth, called the pulp. This can happen because of tooth decay (cavities), gum disease or a cracked tooth. The pulp has soft tissue, nerves and blood vessels. Bacterial infection may cause pus to build (called a tooth abscess) in this sensitive area. Symptoms can include:
- Bad tastes in the mouth
A tooth infection should always be treated. A tooth abscess can spread into the soft tissues of your mouth or throat. This can cause a more serious infection and can even interfere with breathing or swallowing.
- American Dental Association. Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline on Antibiotic Use for the Urgent Management of Pulpal- and Periapical-Related Dental Pain and Intraoral Swelling: A Report from the American Dental Association: http://www.ada.org/~/media/EBD/Files/ADA_Chairside_Guide_Antibiotics_TA.pdf. [Accessed November 9, 2020].
- American Academy of Family Physicians. Dental Problems in Primary Care. December 1, 2018. Available at: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2018/1201/p654.html. [Accessed November 6, 2020].
- American Dental Association. Abscess (Toothache). Available at: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/a/abscess. [Accessed November 6, 2020].
- American Dental Association. Oral Health Topics: Oral Analgesics for Acute Dental Pain. September 15, 2020. Available at: https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/oral-analgesics-for-acute-dental-pain. [Accessed November 9, 2020].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dental Pain. May 11, 2020. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/acute-pain/dental-pain/index.html. [Accessed November 6, 2020].
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