Carefree M.D. Blog

Which Is the Best Antibiotic for Your Tooth Infection?

Carefree MD

May 27, 2021 | Blog

Tooth infections are more than just painful. They’re also potentially dangerous. If you have a tooth infection (tooth abscess), you’ll want to treat it with the best antibiotic medicine out there.

However, there are various kinds of antibiotics. Learn more about your treatment options for dental infections and make an informed choice toward a speedy recovery.

What Is a Tooth Infection?

Tooth infection, also known as tooth abscess, happens thanks to a combination of tooth decay and poor dental hygiene. If you don’t brush your teeth every day, the bacteria in your mouth eat away at your enamel, raising the risk of a tooth infection.

However, in some cases, you can also get a tooth infection from dental work or an injury.

Tooth infections are extremely common. Some studies found that 91% of the adult population of the United States has or has had cavities and tooth infections.

Symptoms of a Tooth Infection

  • Severe, persistent, throbbing toothache that can radiate to the jawbone, neck, or ear
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Sensitivity to the pressure of chewing or biting
  • Fever
  • Swelling in your face or cheek
  • Tender, swollen lymph nodes under your jaw or in your neck
  • A sudden rush of foul-smelling and foul-tasting, salty fluid in your mouth and pain relief if the abscess ruptures
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

The Dangers of Untreated Tooth Infections

The risk of losing your tooth if you have an infection should be the least of your worries. Untreated tooth infections can spread to your jaw, lymph nodes, and even your brain. 

In short, tooth infections can easily become life-threatening conditions.

What to Do If You Have a Tooth Infection

If you suspect that you have a tooth infection, see a dentist immediately. They’ll be able to assess the damage and suggest appropriate treatment for it.

Sometimes, the dentist won’t recommend medication. Instead, they’ll drain or remove the infected area, extract the tooth, or perform a root canal

However, if the infection is severe or spreading, the only way to treat the tooth infection is with antibiotics.

Do I Need Antibiotics for a Tooth Infection?

If the dentist recommends antibiotics for your infection, it’s best to take them. They wouldn’t prescribe them if it wasn’t absolutely necessary.

However, before you take your medicine, you should get to know the different types of antibiotics dentists usually prescribe. This will help you learn what you can expect from them.

Four of the Best Kinds of Antibiotic for Tooth Infection

Antibiotics just kill bacteria, right? Well, it’s not as simple as that. In fact, each kind of antibiotic targets a different strain of bacteria. And because there are over 150 strains of bacteria in our mouths, that’s a pretty wide variety of medicine.

It’s important to use the right antibiotic that targets the cause of your infection. Learn about the four most common kinds of antibiotics that can help you if you have a tooth infection below.

Penicillin Class Antibiotics

Penicillin-type medicine is a common antibiotic for tooth infections. Usually, the two particular ones we talk about here are penicillin and amoxicillin. Sometimes, your dentist will recommend a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid to treat stubborn tooth infections.

As for dosage, you can take 300-600 milligrams (mg) of penicillin four times per day.

With amoxicillin, the typical dosage for tooth infections is either 500 mg three times a day, or 1000 mg twice a day. 

If you’re taking amoxicillin with clavulanic acid, 500-2000 mg three times a day, or 2000 mg twice a day should be your dosage. This depends on the minimum effective dosage. Your dentist will discuss the proper dosage with you.

It’s important to mention that some patients can be allergic to penicillin-type drugs. If you have a penicillin allergy or you have an allergic reaction, please notify your dentist or doctor as soon as possible.


Clindamycin is an effective antibiotic when you have a tooth infection. It’s a great alternative if you’re allergic to penicillin or your body resists it. 

The usual dosage of clindamycin is 300-600 mg three times a day.


If you’re allergic to penicillin and your infection doesn’t respond well to clindamycin, azithromycin may help. It halts the growth of a variety of bacteria, so it’s often useful for tooth infections. 

Typically, the dosage for azithromycin is 500 mg once a day. You have to take it for 3 consecutive days to take effect.


Metronidazole isn’t the first choice of treatment for many dentists. However, it’s a useful backup plan if other forms of antibiotics are unsuitable.

The typical dosage of metronidazole is 500-750 mg three times a day.

Do Antibiotics Have Side Effects?

Just like every other medicine, there’s a possibility of experiencing side effects when you take antibiotics for tooth infections. What these may be depend on the kind of drug it is. 

Make sure you discuss the possible side effects with the dentist, and you read the medicine’s informational leaflet. This will help you stay prepared and avoid any surprises during your treatment.

For example, diarrhea can be a common side effect of antibiotics. And that tid-bit of knowledge can be very helpful if you want to avoid any potentially embarrassing situations.

How Long Do I Need to Take Antibiotics For?

No matter which kind of antibiotic suits you and your tooth infection best, it’s crucial to complete the full round of treatment.
Sometimes, your symptoms may improve after a day or two. However, if the dentist or pharmacist recommends that you take it for an entire week, don’t stop. 

Taking antibiotics even though your symptoms disappeared can help ensure that the infection is truly healed and won’t return.

The only reason you should stop taking a form of prescribed antibiotics is if you’re having an allergic reaction to them. Even then, you should consult your dentist before you make a switch.

Home Remedies and OTC Medications for Tooth Infections

Home remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) medications can help ease your symptoms as you’re taking antibiotics.
Painkillers like ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) are common OTC drugs to help with toothache. You can also try these easy tricks and home remedies to help with the pain:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater
  • Rinse your mouth with a mixture of water and baking soda 
  • Brush with a soft-bristle brush
  • Avoid hot or cold foods
  • Avoid chewing with the infected tooth

Talk to a Doctor About Your Antibiotic Treatment

Taking antibiotic drugs is often your best option when you have a tooth infection. And taking them right can make or break the success of your recovery. If you’re ever in doubt about your current antibiotic treatment or you want to know what the best option is for you, speak to a doctor.

Luckily, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home to consult a doctor about your concerns regarding antibiotics. With Carefree MD, you receive unlimited 24/7 access to board-certified physicians. 

Our board-certified physicians can diagnose your illness, recommend the right antibiotics for you, prescribe them when medically necessary, and have them sent to your local pharmacy. 

Talk to a doctor today about your antibiotic options when you become a Carefree MD member. 


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