Tooth extraction involves either a simple procedure or a surgery may be required. In either case, there would be a wound viz., a small or a lengthy incision from where one might bleed. With an open wound, the chances of infection go high. Moreover, pain and inflammation are some of the most common symptoms in the post tooth extraction phase.
Antibiotics are a group of drugs which inhibit or prevent the growth of microbes. They even kill the micro-organisms that cause different diseases or infections. These organisms are usually referred to as pathogens. Antibiotics are particularly antibacterial drugs. Whenever, there is a chance of infection, a doctor usually prescribes antibiotics to prevent its likelihood. Similarly, in case of tooth extraction, the dentist might advise the intake of antibiotics for a few days1. What needs to be understood here is that whether an antibiotic is necessary after a tooth extraction or not. Before we delve into understanding it, let us first understand the tooth extraction procedure.
Procedure of Tooth Extraction
As discussed earlier, some teeth require a simple technique and a little care while others might require a surgery. Even if tooth extraction requires a simple technique, it involves bleeding. Bleeding can be stopped by using gauze at the site of extraction and a slight pressure is applied to stop the bleeding. The blood stops coming out and starts clotting after a few minutes which give rise to the healing process. In some cases, when the tooth is the molar or wisdom tooth, or else if the tooth is broken, the extraction would be a little tedious process and requires a surgery by an expert or a dental surgeon. In such a condition, a cut is made a little longer to facilitate easy extraction. In such a case, the wound will take a longer time to heal. At times, a deeper incision, wherein the bone is cut might also be required.
Are Antibiotics Necessary After Tooth Extraction?
Antibiotics are usually advised to prevent infections. After a tooth extraction, a small, open wound or a deep incision might be present which was done at the time of tooth extraction. At any site of wound, the chances of infection are very high. Hence, the dentist will always prescribe a course of antibiotics after tooth extraction1.
After a tooth extraction, antibiotics are necessary for2:
- Preventing infection
- Reducing the risk of complications
- Providing immunity to fight against pathogens.
Antibiotics are given either just before the procedure or immediately after the extraction. Sometimes antibiotics are given prior to the surgery as a preventive measure. These are called preventative antibiotics. Antibiotics are found to decrease the chances of getting dry tooth socket related issues or infection3.
A number of people undergoing tooth extraction also have certain other comorbid conditions which increase the risk of infection or any other complications. The following are the health conditions where more care is to be taken:
- Patient may have defected heart valve or it might have been transplanted.
- In case the patients have very weak immune system.
- Patient who have suffered from endocarditis once.
- The patient has liver cirrhosis.
- Any tissue or bone replacement such as hip or knee, or have artificial joints, etc.
- The patient might be having any kind of cardiovascular diseases which are congenital.
Usually the antibiotics are not given alone. They will be accompanied with analgesic drugs, antipyretics or sometimes antacids. Common antibiotics prescribed after dental procedures are amoxicillin or penicillin. In case, if the patients are allergic to these drugs, then erythromycin, emgel, ilotycin and benzamicin group of drugs are advised. In some severe cases where penicillin looks very mild, a higher antibiotic called clindamycin is given to prevent activity of anaerobic bacteria.
Ways to Speed up Recovery After Tooth Extraction
To speed up the tooth extraction healing process, some instructions are also given to the patients such as:
- To avoid pricking, poking, eating solid foods, brushing, etc.
- Avoid solid foods or foods which require too much of chewing. It is advised to consume semi-solid foods for a few days.
- The patient should never overlook the instructions given by the health care professional and should take the prescribed medicines as per the prescription.
- There may be some complications like bleeding, pain, fever, pus formation, swelling or dry socket.
Though antibiotics are found to be beneficial in avoiding infections and also in destroying the microbes, patients also have some side effects of antibiotics. Hence, it is left to surgeon’s decision when to give antibiotics whether before the surgery or after the procedure and which antibiotics to be given. The course of antibiotics is also decided by the dentist or surgeon depending upon some factors like age, health condition of the patient, whether they are under some other medication.