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New Guideline Suggests Antibiotics Seldom Needed for Toothaches

The American Dental Association (ADA) has released a new guideline that suggests antibiotics are not appropriate for toothaches in most cases.

The American Dental Association (ADA) has released a new guideline that suggests antibiotics are not appropriate for toothaches in most cases. Patients presenting with toothaches are often prescribed antibiotics by physicians or dentists to help prevent progression to a more serious condition. However, the new guideline finds that healthy adults experiencing a toothache are best served by prompt treatment and, if needed, over-the-counter pain relievers.

The guideline offers examples in which antibiotics may be prescribed for a toothache. “When dental treatment is not immediately available and the patient has signs and symptoms, such as fever, swollen lymph nodes or extreme tiredness, antibiotics may be needed,” notes Peter Lockhart, DDS, chair of the ADA panel that developed the guideline. “But, in most cases when adults have a toothache and access to dental treatment, antibiotics may do more harm than good.”

From Decisions in Dentistry. January 2020;6(1):8.

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