When people see an emergency dentist, they are typically in a condition where they need immediate care. This is often because of an infection, one that has festered for some time and now is so acute, it has to be treated. People find that this kind of pain experienced with an infection of this magnitude can come on suddenly at the most unexpected of times, which requires the care of an emergency dentist to help relieve the pain. In a situation like this, we have many options, but most often, we will treat the infection with an antibiotic. We may want to take more extreme measures, but if you are in extreme discomfort, sometimes it is better to simply get your discomfort under control and then go to work to reduce the infection. One of the tools an emergency dentist will use is an antibiotic treatment. Since they were first discovered with the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928, antibiotics have become one of the first lines of defense against infections. This is especially true when it comes to emergency dental situations. In an emergency, you want relief and you want it fast, so it is natural to turn to antibiotics. It is important to remember that when you take antibiotics, they are a quick fix to help get you back on track, but you will need to make sure that you cure the underlying problem as well. To that end, here are a couple myths about antibiotics.
As an emergency dentist, we know that people come to rely on antibiotics to work magic when they have an infection. They also believe an antibiotic can actually cure them of whatever their ailment is. This is actually a myth. While it is true that an antibiotic can be your best friend and it is used frequently by an emergency dentist, the goal of an antibiotic is to boost the body’s own defenses by creating balance between the body’s immune system and the invading infection. When this happens, your body can go to work to eliminate the threat on its own. In addition, your body learns how to recognize this particular infection, making it far easier to deal with should it ever come back. Because we are an emergency dentist who deals with antibiotics more than most, we are careful to give you the dosage you require to fight the infection and give you time to see your dentist who can get to the root cause of your infection.
When you have an infection treated by your emergency dentist, it is important to follow up by visiting your regular dentist. The antibiotics will fight off the infection, but may not treat the root cause of this problem, which means it can return at a later time. As a dentist, it is important to find the cause of the infection and treat it so that it can never return. Antibiotics may help you to cure the root cause or may just buy you the time your dentist need to solve it.
Dr. Eric Vanek, d.d.s
Eric has been a practicing dental surgeon for over 20 years and is the owner of Vanek Dentistry, a family dental practice in Costa Mesa, CA.
Published September 2, 2015. Updated August 17, 2021
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