Antibiotics Used for Gum Infection

Gum infection, or periodontitis, is an infection of the soft tissues and bones that support the teeth and can lead to tooth loss, increased risk of heart attack or stroke and other serious health problems. Poor oral hygiene is the most important cause for the disease. The treatment's goal is to clear the bacteria from the gums and prevent more damage. Apart from surgery, scaling and root planning, antibiotics can also be prescribed to treat the condition.


Doxycycline is an antibiotic in the class of tetracycline antibiotics. It works by preventing the growth and spread of bacteria. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, doxycycline is administered in the form of a gel and is applied in the dental pockets by the dentist after cleaning the dental plaque and the teeth root. Once the gel is applied, the area is covered with a special bandage called a periodontal pack and the antibiotic from the gel is released over seven days. The periodontal pack is removed after seven to 10 days. Common side effects of doxycycline include diarrhea, sore mouth and upset stomach.


Chlorhexidine is an antimicrobial agent that's effective against a wide range of bacteria. It's commonly found in a prescription mouth rinse that is used to control bacteria when treating gum infections. A study published in the September 2007 edition of Angle Orthodontist reported that 0.2 percent chlorhexidine gluconate mouth rinse decreased the amount of Streptococcus levels considerably, although it had no effect on lactobacilli levels 2. Chlorhexidine acts by killing bacteria present in oral pockets and prevents the recurrence of the infection. The most common side effects of chlorhexidine include an increase in staining of teeth, increase in calculus formation and changed taste perception.


Minocycline belongs to the tetracycline group of antibiotics. It brings about its antimicrobial effects by inhibiting synthesis of new proteins in the bacterial cells. Minocycline has a broad spectrum of activity. It's effective against a variety of bacteria and is available in powder form that can be applied by the dentist at the site of the infection. It's also available as tiny, round particles known as microspheres. These microspheres are placed by the dentist in the dental pockets and release the antibiotic slowly over time.

Common side effects of minocycline include upset stomach, diarrhea and oral inflammatory lesions. According to an article published in the 1998 edition of Annals of Pharmacotherapy, tooth staining is a common complication of minocycline, especially in the pediatric population 3.