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Best Antibiotics For Tooth Infection (7 Effective Choices)

antibióticos para la infección dental

Dr. Andreas

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Written by

Q.F. Nayibe Cubillos Morales


Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Gustavo Assatourians D.D.S

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Antibiotics for tooth infection often require addressing the issue effectively. The most common reasons for dental visits are dental caries, dental abscesses, gingivitis, or periodontitis, which result from infectious oral conditions. Dental infection – also called odontogenic infection – is caused by bacterial invasion of the pulp space (the nerve); Generally, the culprits are advanced caries, an unsuccessful root canal treatment, or an advanced chronic infection (periodontitis), among others.

The infection may be concentrated in the nerve space or spread to surrounding tissues, frequently affecting the third molars, known as wisdom teeth.

People with a depressed immune system (diabetes, infectious endocarditis, lupus, cancer, HIV) and the elderly are at greater risk of spreading dental infection.

The World Health Organization (WHO) in its global report on the state of oral health (2022), points out that in the world oral diseases affect approximately 3,500 million people.

The WHO report states that worldwide 2,000 million people suffer from caries in permanent teeth and 514 million children have caries in primary teeth.


What are the Symptoms?   



 General discomfort

 Swollen jaw or neck

 Severe pain that does not go away

These are some of the symptoms of advanced dental infection.


antibiotics for tooth infections

When to use antibiotics for tooth infection?

To make appropriate use of antibiotics and avoid bacterial resistance to their curative effects, the WHO recommends limiting their prescription to the necessary cases. On the other hand, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends avoiding the use of antibiotics due to their possible side effects.

The prescription of antibiotics is a part of the healing process accompanied by other procedures. It must be taken into account that the infected tooth does not always require antibiotics. In some cases, a dental infection can be treated with drains, deep cleanings, or a root canal (the removal of infected tissue).

The treating dentist has the alternative of prescribing antibiotics in the following cases:

 To perform a procedure to prevent the risk of the infection spreading to other areas. It is a frequent measure for people who have a depressed immune system.

 In the treatment of dental infections when other treatments for acute infections – such as ulcerative gingivitis or periodontitis – do not achieve the expected response.

If the dental infection spreads or a clinical picture with a low level of defense is indicated, the dentist can prescribe antibiotics, to prevent further effects and health complications.


What Happens if Left Untreated?  

If a dental infection is not treated promptly, it can lead to other more complex health conditions, such as:

 Soss of teeth

 Blood infection


 Brain infection




What are the Antibiotics for Tooth Infections?

Currently, multiple strains of the bacteria are known to grow in the mouth. This determines the type of antibiotic formulated to combat the microorganism that causes the infection.

For this process, the health status and age of the patient must be taken into account. Special care is necessary for pregnant women, children, and people with renal failure, all conditions that determine the choice of the indicated antibiotic treatment.

Here are some of the antibiotics used to treat dental infections:

1. Oral amoxicillin / Oral potassium penicillin V

The ADA recommends them as first-line drugs. It belongs to the group of penicillin-like drugs that fight infections by preventing the spread of bacteria. However, this type of medication is not indicated for treating viral infections.

In cases of bacterial resistance to amoxicillin, this drug is combined with clavulanic acid to increase its effect. The acid prevents the bacteria from destroying the antibiotic medicine. This combination can reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives, which is why during treatment, it is recommended to resort to other mechanisms.

2. Amoxicillin

It is contraindicated for people allergic to penicillin. In these cases, the health professional must choose a substitute drug, such as:

3. Azithromycin

It is a mediation with good results in the treatment of a variety of dental tissue infections since it stops the growth of bacteria. It should not be prescribed with clindamycin, as the effect is canceled. It should be noted that this drug is contraindicated in people with liver conditions.

4. Cephalexin

This antibiotic inhibits the enzymes of the bacterial cell wall and interrupts their synthesis. It is a useful medication for the treatment of dental infections but should not be prescribed to people with kidney failure, liver disease, or pregnant women.

5. Clindamycin

It is an effective medicine against different infectious bacteria. A study conducted in 2015 points out that some researchers recommend it for the treatment of dental infections due to low bacterial resistance.

6. Erythromycin

It is a medication of wide formulation. It is frequently prescribed for the treatment of cavities and plaque bacteria. In some cases, it is used for the treatment of dental abscesses. People taking terfenadine, astemizole, or cisapride should not receive erythromycin.

7. Metronidazole

This medication is frequently prescribed to treat a variety of dental infections, although some professionals note that it is not a first-line option for treatment. Caution should be used when prescribed with alcohol, anticoagulants, seizure control drugs, sedatives, and medications for depression.

For people with liver or intestinal diseases, disorders of blood cells, or the nervous system, it is necessary to consider other antibiotic drugs.


tooth infections

Side Effects of Antibiotics for Tooth Infection

Some of the side effects that treatment with antibiotic drugs can generate are:

 Advancement of dental infection

 Change in taste


 Difficulty breathing


 Joint pain


 Swelling of the face, eyes, or mouth

 Yeast Infection/candidiasis




If any of these symptoms occur, consult your health professional to follow the relevant protocol and avoid other health conditions.

Prevention of Dental Infections

The best way to prevent a dental infection is to practice good oral hygiene. It is recommended to brush your teeth twice a day with toothpaste containing fluoride.

 Use dental floss or interdental brushes to remove bacterial plaque.

 Limit sugar intake, especially between meals.

 Doctors should be mindful of prescribing sugary medications to avoid the risk of dental caries.

 For people with a dry mouth, low-sugar artificial saliva or sugar-free gum may be indicated.

 Replace the sugar with other sweeteners, such as birch sugar (xylitol).

 Regularly visit the dentist for cleaning sessions and preventive reviews.

Any of the aforementioned antibiotics for tooth infection should be evaluated and prescribed by your dentist for safety. It is important to ask the dentist’s pharmacist how it should be administered and the most common side effects to be aware of. Also, consult with these professionals on how to manage pain if present since antibiotics fight bacteria, but they do not work for pain management.



1. Cadman, Bethany (Junio 2 de 2018) How do you know if you have a cracked tooth? /

2. Chao, Sally (Enero 23 de 2023) What are the best antibiotics for a tooth infection? /

3. Dorwart, Laura (Marzo 23 de 2022) Antibiotics for Tooth Infection: What You Should Know /

4. MedlinePlus (Agosto 15 de 2018) Amoxicillin and Clavulanic Acid /

5. Robles, Purificación / Echaniza Elena et al (April 2013) I’m going to the dentist: antibiotic as prevention or as treatment? Primary Care Magazine, Volume 45 – No. 4 /

6. Robertson, Douglas/Keys, William et al (March 2015). Severe Acute Dental Infections /

7. Rodríguez-Alonso, Elías (2009) Antibiotic treatment of odontogenic infection /

8. Technologies for health (June 21, 2018) Specific antibiotics for dental infections and contraindications /

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