I think I have a tooth infection because I had a toothache that lasted for about a week or so. Then a few days ago, my face began to swell. I am afraid to go to the dentist. Also, I really shouldn’t take off time at work and I don’t know if I could afford it. Can you recommend an antibiotic that will take care of the infection until I can get in for an appointment?
– Rachel in California
You should not be using an antibiotic as a substitute of seeking dental treatment. This is because an antibiotic needs to be used together with treatment because an antibiotic alone will not take care of the problem.
A typical tooth infection takes place on the inside of a tooth. The infection causes the tissue inside the tooth to die. When you take an antibiotic, it will circulate throughout your bloodstream. So if the tooth is dead inside, the blood will not circulate there. Therefore, the antibiotic will not do much. And even if the tooth isn’t actually dead inside, there is no room for the infection to go. So when swelling occurs in your tooth it will spread into an abscess.
A root canal treatment will take care of the infection inside your tooth. But antibiotics alone will never fully eliminate the infection. It may temporarily treat it and that is why it is important to seek treatment that addresses the cause of the infection during that time. If you only take the antibiotic, you are actually creating bacteria that are resistant to the infection. This is a dangerous situation. Because when you finally make it into the dentist, the bacteria may be totally resistant to antibiotics and a tooth infection always runs the chance of spreading into your throat or brain. You don’t want to delay the treatment of a tooth infection, it can result in very serious consequences.
If your finances are holding you back, make some calls around. There are many affordable, emergency dentists around that would help with an urgent situation like you have. They may even be able to work with you on setting up a payment plan. But you need to have this taken care of sooner than later. And if you are scared of the dentist, look for a dentist that offers sedation dentistry. Sedation is safe, simple, and you may not even remember the appointment.
This post is sponsored by Lafayette dentist Theriot Family Dental Care.