The B.C. Dental Association says increasingly complex work could be why antibiotics are overprescribed
While antibiotic prescribing by doctors is dropping, the opposite is true in the field of dentistry.
A new poster campaign launched by the BCCDC and the B.C. Dental Association is asking people to consider how they use antibiotics.
The posters, posted prominently on SkyTrains, picture the open mouth of a dental patient with the caption, “Just say ‘nahhh’ to antibiotics.”
“Whether your patient leaves your office pissed off or happy with your decision not to prescribe, that’s going to affect your likelihood to do that again,” David Patrick, the centre’s medical epidemiologist and lead for antimicrobial resistance, told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko.
“That’s very clear in all the behavioural literature.”
Posters similar to this are being run on SkyTrains in Vancouver and other locations. (antibioticwise.ca)
That, Patrick says, is why patients need to be part of the effort, even though it is the dentist who writes the prescription.
Left untreated, they can also spread to nearby areas, including your brain.
If you have a tooth infection, see a dentist as soon as possible to prevent the infection from spreading. You’ll want to be careful with any infection in your head, especially in your mouth since it’s close to your brain. Your dentist will likely prescribe an antibiotic to help kill the bacteria causing your tooth infection.
Read on to learn more about the types of antibiotics used to treat tooth infections and over-the-counter options for pain relief.
Which antibiotics work best for a tooth infection?
Not all tooth infections require antibiotics. In some cases, your dentist may be able to drain the abscess. Other cases might require a root canal or removal of the infected tooth.
Antibiotics are generally used when:
your infection is severe
your infection has spread
you have a weakened immune system
The type of antibiotic you’ll need depends on the type of bacteria causing the infection. Different classes of antibiotics have different ways of attacking bacteria. Your dentist will want to choose an antibiotic that can effectively eliminate your infection.
Antibiotics of the penicillin class, such as penicillin and amoxicillin, are most commonly used to help treat tooth infections.
An antibiotic called metronidazole may be given for some types of bacterial infections. It’s sometimes prescribed with penicillin in order to cover a larger variety of bacterial species.
While penicillin antibiotics are common used for tooth infections, many people are allergic to them. Make sure to tell your dentist about any allergic reactions you’ve had in the past to medications.
If you’re allergic to penicillin, your dentist might a different antibiotic, such as clindamycin or erythromycin.
How much should I take and for how long?
If you have a tooth infection that requires antibiotics, you’ll need to take them for about one week. Depending on the type of antibiotic, you’ll need to take a dose two to four times a day.
You should receive instructions from your pharmacy detailing exactly how to take the antibiotic. You can ask the pharmacist if you’re not sure about how to take a medication.
Keep in mind that you might have to take a few courses of antibiotics before they get into your system and begin acting on the infection.
Always take the entire course of antibiotics prescribed by your dentist, even if your symptoms seem to disappear. If you don’t take the entire course, some bacteria may survive, making it harder to treat the infection.
Are there any over-the-counter remedies?
You should always see your dentist if you have a tooth infection. Your teeth are very close to your brain and a tooth infection can quickly spread to nearby areas and organs.
Antibiotics aren’t available without a prescription, but there are a few things you can do at home for relief before your appointment, such as: