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Dentistry/Antibiotics after temporary and to avoid Root Canal?


I saw a dentist today and had an old root canal trimmed off and dentist put on a temporary tooth on it and will be getting a crown in 2 weeks. The dentist prescribed me antibiotics and I asked why since I always had crowns done without them. She said that it was in part for the tooth that was treated today, but also because she noticed another inflamed/lightly infected tooth that might need a root canal and she wants to see if the inflammation goes down after taking the antibiotics.

I never felt pain in this tooth. Anyhow, since I will be leaving for Italy for a month in the next 3 weeks, I asked if I could avoid taking the antibiotics for now since I will be getting that root canal if really needed when I come back. Her answer was:

"oK, so take the antibiotic for 5 days for now, and then we'll take a look in 2 weeks when you come for your crown, and then if you need a root canal, take them again 5 days prior to the procedure."

I must confess I am not at all keen in taking antibiotics for teeth problems. I take antibiotics only for severe things as they cause me to get recurrent yeast infections that last for months. I feel tempted to just avoid taking them, at least for now until I come back from my trip. If I decide not to take them, what's the most that can happen? I have never heard of a tooth that can be cured with an antibiotic and no root canal is needed.Also, never took them before after a temporary tooth is put on. I feel it's mostly for liability purposes just in case, and I still can understand how they would prevent me a root canal. I would hate to take them and then still need the root canal.  What are your thoughts?
Thanks for your insight.

Thank you for submitting this question.
As I state in every response, since I have not had the opportunity to clinically exam and view your entire radiographic history, my recommendations are totally based on your stated history.

In general, The American Association of Endodontists (root canal specialists) have provided standard protocols for the use of antibiotics in (endodontic) root canal therapy. I refer you to the website to read the current information.
Having stated this, every individual patient has a unique set of clinical circumstances. This can vary with medical history, clinical situations and patient concerns.
In your particular situation, you did not provide any medical or clinical characteristics that would indicate the use of antibiotics either pre or post treatment.
Generally, if a tooth is suspected of needing root canal therapy, the appropriate clinical exam, tests etc. should be performed. Watchful evaluation,(that includes isolating the clinical signs and symptoms until a specific tooth is isolated) is a choice under certain circumstances.
If you demonstrate radiographic pathology due to pulp/ and or periapical disease, thus needing root canal therapy, treatment should be performed based on a variety of factors. These can include, patient desires, periodontal status, restorative concerns and the overall prognosis and outcome.
In your particular situation, antibiotics are usually used when a patient demonstrates active infection such as swelling or in concert with a systemic medical issue.
My suggestion is to return sooner rather than later to your dentist and have the questionable tooth evaluated much sooner than two weeks. If you are not satisfied with the course of treatment, I would recommend you ask for a referral to an endodontist ( a specialist in root canal treatment). At least by having a consult with a specialist, you can feel more comfortable with your current diagnostic and
treatment status.
If you are unable to be referred, you can reference the website I provided, to seek a specialist. Also, if there is a dental school near where you live, there will be endodontic specialists on the faculty. They would be able to evaluate you.
Good luck with your care and treatment.If a root canal is needed, I would encourage you to seek care before your trip. Have a wonderful time in Italy.


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robert block


I would prefer to answer questions related in my specialty of Endodontics( ROOT CANAL THERAPY) I am a Board Certified Endodontist with a special interest in advanced surgical endodontic procedures. I know root canals create a lot of apprehension in patients, and they usually have many questions about the procedure. I can address patient concerns either before or after their root canal treatment. I also have re-treated numerous patients who have had previous endodontic treatment. As a result of these clinical failures,and the increase in the use of dental implants, its important patients understand the alternatives of therapy. There are often many components to treatment that interrelate the disciplines of endodontics, periodontics and restorative dentistry.Patients frequently question the importance of considering all facets in a clinical regimen. Hopefully, I would be able to educate and contribute some information from the endodontic perspective.


Diplomate American Board of Endodontics, 35 years plus private practice experience. Formerly Professor and Chairman, Department of Endodontics at US dental school. Editorial journal reviewer for the endodontic section of The Journal of American Dental Association. Serve as a reviewer on several editorial boards.

American Association of Endodontists, College of Diplomates, American Board of Endodontics

Over 150 publications, abstracts, case reports, chapters in textbooks. J. Dental Research, J. of Endodontics, J. of Oral Surgery Oral Medicine Oral Pathology,The NEXTDDS J.For example: The Single File Approach for Predictable Endodontic Canal Instrumentation:The Wave One, THE NEXTDDS J. 4-2:13-17 Fall 2014 Non Surgical Management of an Endodontic Failure Utilizing Contemporary Technology, www.THENEXTDDS 5-1:60-63 Spring 2015 Are You Still Using Formocresol? An Update, Tn. Dent. J. 89-4:14-19 Fall 2009 Management of Endodontic Failures, Oral Surg.vol.66:711-Dec.1988

BA. DePauw University, DDS. University of Michigan, MS. Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Gen. Practice Resident, University of Connecticut, Endodontic Resident Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University

Awards and Honors
Numerous Awards and Honors, Edward P. Hatton Award( Int. Assoc. of Dental Research), Endodontic Memorial Research Award ( American Association of Endodontics) Outstanding Endodontic Department Teaching Award (given by dental students)Fellow American Academy of Dental Science

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