What do you do if you have a splinter in your arm that is causing redness, swelling and pain? Would you see your Doctor expecting they would write you a script, or would you prefer they removed the source of infection? There are times when taking antibiotics is not the final solution, and the following article discusses how this is relevant to dentistry, and why our Dentists at Medland Dental take the time to address the sources of infection, instead of doing a ‘quick fix’ and offering a script.

Antibiotics are a drug used to treat bacterial infections. They can work in different ways and affect different types of bacteria. Ultimately, they all aim to either kill bacteria or prevent them from reproducing, which allows our body’s immune system to eliminate the infection. Antibiotics are most often prescribed to treat respiratory tract infections, skin infections and infected wounds. Antibiotics are also widely used in dentistry, both as a preventative measure for at-risk patients and as an adjunct to treatment. One of the most common situations where a dentist may prescribe antibiotics is to help relieve swelling. The swelling could be in the form of an abscess due to the infected nerve of a tooth, or facial swelling due to an impacted wisdom tooth. Antibiotics can also be used to help the healing process of gum disease.

One of the key messages the World Health Organisation is promoting is to ‘Seek advice from qualified healthcare professionals before taking antibiotics’. There are several reasons for this, but one important reason to highlight is the issue of ‘Antibiotic Resistance’.

You may have heard the term ‘antibiotic resistance’ often discussed in recent years. In short, antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria alter their genes to protect themselves against an antibiotic that would usually kill them. Resistance occurs when the bacteria come into contact with this antibiotic. The more frequently the same antibiotic is used, the more likely the genes will mutate. The bacteria can then ‘resist’ the antibiotic, rendering it ineffective. Due to over-prescription of antibiotics, it is a current global health issue, which could lead to common, treatable infections no longer being eliminated in the same way, or as easily.

The Dentists at Medland Dental take pride in always being accommodating to our patients with swelling or severe pain arising due to dental infection. A quick fix would be to write a ‘script’ to treat the symptoms rather than treat its cause, but as outlined above, our duty of care extends beyond that. Our Dentists will always carefully consider the need to prescribe antibiotics, keeping your health foremost in our mind. This practice is consistent with our unwavering philosophy of technical excellence and exceptional care for each of our patients.