How long is it ok to take antibiotics and can you retake them?
May 20, 2015 5:20 PM   Subscribe

I have a cavity and my dentist prescribed me a week of antibiotics to take every 6 hours to keep it from getting worse. I ran out of the antibiotics last week.

So I'm supposed to remove a bad tooth, but I haven't been able to yet because I still haven't found an implant specialist to do the removal and implantation etc. I was in the process of looking for someone last week, but then all these things happened- I found out out of the blue that my landlord wasn't attempting to renew our lease so suddenly we had only 12 days to find a new place unless we could negotiate with the landlord so then we had to get a lawyer and blah, blah... Anyway it was one emergency after another and they sucked up all my time.

Today was the first day I actually found a minute to try to find an implant specialist to deal with this and I set up several appointments. To my surprise, I have to wait until mid next week to see any of them. No one would see me earlier. Meanwhile my tooth is now starting to smell- Which I think is a pretty clear sign that the cavity's gotten worse since I ran out of the antibiotics last week.

Either way it looks like I'm stuck with this tooth for at least another 8 days, so should I go to my primary doctor tomorrow and get more antibiotics from him, or is that unsafe now that I've already took them for a week previously?
posted by manderin to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
Talk to your primary. If you still have an infection, he'll probably prescribe a different antibiotic. You're perfectly safe.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:26 PM on May 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

Call your dentist and tell them the infection hasn't cleared. They might call the pharmacy with another prescription, but more than likely, they'll want to see you again. If your dentist won't see you (I'd be surprised, really!), yup, see your GP.
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:27 PM on May 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

Any dentist should be able to remove the tooth - which will resolve your immediate problems. You only need an implant specialist to do the actual implant.
posted by btkuhn at 5:56 PM on May 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

It's not unsafe to continue the antibiotics, it's just that antibiotics have potential side effects which could crop up when you take them longer, and also that taking longer courses of antibiotics, especially with a break in between the courses, encourages antibiotic resistance. The most likely outcome is that you will experience no side effects and you won't encounter any issue with resistance, those are just potential risks.

Your situation is not ideal, but it would be more unsafe not to take antibiotics, because dental infections can get bad fast, and you could at least run into some pretty awful pain, if not getting soft tissue swelling of your face, abscess, etc.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:08 PM on May 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

see your primary. Antibiotics are tricky - the doctor is fairly suited to make the decision, we aren't.
posted by wotsac at 6:33 PM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Any dentist should be able to remove the tooth - which will resolve your immediate problems. You only need an implant specialist to do the actual implant.

Omigosh, yes. An implant procedure takes about 6 motnhs, and cannot be started while there is an active infection going on, nor while there is healing from an extraction. I'd guess you have more than a cavity going on, more likely an abscess or apical infection? Sometimes the tooth can be saved by an endodontist (root canal specialist); if not, it needs to be extracted ASAP so the source of infection can be removed and healing can take place. Implants can be done any time in the future. You absolutely do not need to see an implant specialist prior to removal of the infected tooth!
posted by RRgal at 7:41 PM on May 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Unless your tooth still hurts the infection is PROBABLY gone, but the sure way is to get another dental x-ray and look for dark areas (your dentist can do that). You can ask your primary OR dentist for an extension on the antibiotics, but it may not be necessary.
posted by kschang at 12:57 AM on May 21, 2015

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