Can Antibiotics Heal an Infected Root Canal?

Can Antibiotics Heal an Infected Root Canal?

Can Antibiotics Heal an Infected Root Canal?

Oral health plays a vital role in overall health. Poor oral health can lead to many other physical health conditions in addition to gum or tooth problems. When you have tooth pain such as a tooth infection, antibiotics can go a long way in helping to address the infection, but unfortunately, antibiotics cannot completely heal an infected tooth.

What’s more, if you’re dealing with an infected root canal, antibiotics really are not going to cut it. In these cases, you’ll need to have the bacteria removed, either by root canal treatment or tooth extraction, in order for it to heal. Why is that, and more importantly, what can be done to take care of the infection once and for all?

Oral Infections

The root cause of tooth pain is typically a bacterial infection. Abscesses are small pockets of pus that form in the mouth and can lead to painful bacterial infections. A lot of times, an abscess looks like a small white dot, almost pimple-like, near the infected gum and tooth. This type of infection occurs near the root of the tooth. It can be caused by things such as a cracked tooth, oral trauma, poor dental hygiene, or previous dental work that is failing.

When any one of these occurs, it can let bacteria in. This bacteria will feed on nerve tissue and blood vessels and will, in turn, multiply, ultimately leading to an unwanted oral infection.

Treating Bacterial Infections

Once a bacterial infection sets in, the pain can become unbearable. At this point, it may be recommended to start antibiotics to treat the infection. However, your dentist knows that more is required than just oral antibiotics for treatment. Because of the nature of the infection and the anatomy of a tooth’s roots, bacteria become trapped in the roots. If the bacteria is not removed, it will continue to spread and can spread to other parts of the body as well, such as the jaw or even the brain.

The best and most effective way to address an oral infection is through a root canal. A root canal involves draining the abscess, cleaning the infected area thoroughly, and possibly even removing the roots or entire tooth to rid the mouth of potentially harmful bacteria. Once root canal therapy has been performed and bacteria is removed, the pain usually subsides and the infection goes away. Of course, there is still the rare possibility the root canal itself can become infected…

Why Not Antibiotics?

So why can’t antibiotics alone cure the infection? Once the infection has reached the roots, the blood vessels that have antibacterial defenses have already been destroyed. Therefore, antibiotics cannot reach the inside of the tooth or down into the roots where the problem lies. Moreover, there are many types of antibiotics, and if the one you take doesn’t treat the specific type of bacteria causing the issue, then the infection will remain.

Lastly, many antibiotics carry risks of causing an allergic reaction, and some bacteria have been known to be antibiotic-resistant. Because of these reasons, antibiotics aren’t usually prescribed for oral infection and are essentially viewed as completely ineffective in cases of root canal infection.

If antibiotics are prescribed for a tooth infection, it is still important to take them as directed to reduce the infection. Sometimes antibiotics will be given, not because they can heal the situation completely, but because they can at least help with keeping an infection from worsening. But ultimately, removing the bacteria at its source through root canal therapy is going to be the best option.

Tooth pain is no laughing matter. Signs of an infection can include pain, swelling, tooth sensitivity, a noticeable abscess inside the mouth, bad breath, bitter taste in the mouth, or fever. Do not hesitate to contact your dentist if you have one or more symptoms of an oral infection. If you are suffering from tooth pain that you suspect could be an infected root canal, be sure to contact your dentist for more information and how to proceed.