Medicines for an Infected Tooth

An infected tooth can cause pain and swelling of varying degrees. Management of most cases is relatively simple, while others are severe enough to require hospitalization and the administration of intravenous drugs. Fortunately, the majority of dental infections are resolved on an outpatient basis by a dentist and the use of necessary medications to get rid of the infection and its symptoms. Always inform the dentist of all medical issues to avoid adverse reactions. It is also important to list all medications you take to avoid possible drug interactions.

Non-prescription Pain Medications

The main symptom of an abscessed tooth is pain, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Pressure on nerve endings from the pus that builds in the bone surrounding an infected tooth causes this. Over-the-counter analgesics such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen frequently control mild to moderate pain, according to the American Dental Association. The benefit of using aspirin or ibuprofen is the anti-inflammatory property of these drugs. Because of gastrointestinal side effects, some people prefer non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, instead of aspirin.

Prescription Pain Medications

Severe pain is not uncommon with abscessed teeth. According to the American Dental Association, these cases require the prescription of narcotic analgesics. The most common one used in dentistry is codeine. Codeine, morphine and other narcotic analgesics relieve pain by acting on the central nervous system, according to Elmhurst College 1. Cautious use of these drugs is essential because of side effects such as respiratory depression, nausea and drowsiness even in low therapeutic doses. Close monitoring of these drugs is required due to the potential for forming an addiction.


According to the American Association of Endodontists, root canal treatment can save most infected teeth 2. Some infections may require the prescribing of antibiotics to control the infection and allow the bone and soft tissues to heal. Severe infections can require hospitalization and the administration of intravenous antibiotics. Penicillin, amoxicillin and clindamycin are three commonly prescribed antibiotics to control dental infections. Dentists will sometimes prescribe combinations of antibiotics to control an infection, according to Oxford University.

Anti-anxiety Medications

An infected tooth and the treatment it requires can induce significant anxiety. According to the American Dental Association, anti-anxiety medications, such as nitrous oxide and sedatives, used along with local dental anesthetics can help relieve anxiety for dental visits. Dentists who have special training and the necessary equipment to perform this in their office can use intravenous sedatives. As always, it is prudent to be fully aware of the risks associated with the use of anti-anxiety medications.