Monday, March 8, 2010

Oral Pain ? Don't be so quick to request antibiotics.

     We dentists are in a constant struggle to please our patients and serve their health needs. People come to us with many types of problems and they expect us (quite reasonably) to fix them. As with sore throats, coughs and earaches, oral pain is often presumed by our patients to be caused by infection, and antibiotics are therefore requested as the treatment of choice.
     Not so fast, though. Pain can have many other possible causes, and unnecessary antibiotics are a leading cause of adverse drug reactions, allergies, and drug resistant bacteria.
     Choosing the right antibiotic for an oral infection is a crucial part of our job, but equally important is knowing when NOT to prescribe, and when to look for other causes beyond infection.
     TMJ problems, trauma, tooth decay, immune system disorders, and even cardiovascular disease can produce symptoms in the mouth, and none of these will be helped by antibiotics. Quite the opposite in fact.

The most important service we can offer our patients is a careful and accurate diagnosis, and a complete discussion of the possible solutions. Only in this way can the problem be truly solved.