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Is Biaxin good for a tooth infection or abscess?

Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on Nov 10, 2021.

Official answer


Biaxin (clarithromycin) is not a first-line treatment for tooth infections or abscesses. Instead, amoxicillin or penicillin are typically used. For patients with a penicillin allergy, the American Dental Association recommends cephalexin or azithromycin as alternatives.

However, for most dental infections, the use of any antibiotics is not recommended. Antibiotics are generally only recommended for severe infections that are spreading. Performing certain dental procedures and using over-the-counter medications to help relieve pain is considered a superior treatment to antibiotics in most cases.

Clarithromycin may sometimes be given to patients before a dental procedure as a prophylactic to help prevent bacteria spreading from the mouth and causing a heart infection (endocarditis). For patients at risk of developing endocarditis, for reasons including heart problems and compromised immunity, antibiotic prophylaxis may be recommended. In these cases, amoxicillin is typically the first-line treatment. For some patients who are allergic to amoxicillin and other drugs in the same antibiotic family, clarithromycin may be an option.

  1. Lockhart PB, Tampi MP, Abt E, et al. Evidence-based clinical practice guideline on antibiotic use for the urgent management of pulpal- and periapical-related dental pain and intraoral swelling. The Journal of the American Dental Association, Volume 150, Issue 11, 906 - 921.e12.
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus. Clarithromycin. Last reviewed June 15, 2020. Available at: [Accessed September 28, 2021].
  3. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). Antibiotic prophylaxis for dental patients at risk for infection. The Reference Manual of Pediatric Dentistry. Chicago, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry; 2020:447-52. Available at: [Accessed September 28, 2021].

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