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Antibiotics/Antimicrobials for Gum Disease

Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
chlorhexidine gluconatePeridex, Periogard
clindamycinCleocin
doxycyclinePeriostat
metronidazoleFlagyl
penicillin
triclosanColgate Total toothpaste

Sustained-release antibiotics

Generic NameBrand Name
chlorhexidine gluconatePerioChip
doxycycline hyclateAtridox
minocyclineArestin

How It Works

Antibiotics kill bacteria. Plaque contains bacteria, so antibiotics will reduce the amount of plaque in your mouth. This can reverse gum disease and allow your gums to heal.

Dentists prescribe antibiotics in different forms to treat gum disease. They can be applied directly on the gums (topical), swallowed as pills or capsules, swished around on your teeth as mouthwash, or inserted into the pockets of advanced gum disease. Some medicated toothpastes contain an antibacterial ingredient that reduces plaque and gingivitis when used regularly. Ask your dentist if this type of product would help you.

Why It Is Used

  • To reduce bacteria in your mouth, antibiotic mouthwash may be prescribed for use after brushing and flossing.
  • Topical antibiotics may be prescribed to treat early-stage gum disease (gingivitis) that cannot be slowed by improved brushing and flossing habits.
  • Topical antibiotics may be prescribed to treat mild forms of advanced gum disease (periodontitis).
  • Sustained-release antibiotics may be inserted into the gum pocket for periodontitis.
  • Antibiotic pills or capsules may be prescribed to treat moderate to severe periodontitis.

How Well It Works

If antibiotic treatment is combined with proper brushing and flossing habits, gum disease can sometimes be stopped. Then gums can become pink and healthy again.

Side Effects

Some possible side effects of antibiotic pills include:

Sometimes switching to a different medicine will reduce or end these side effects.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Antibiotic mouthwashes should not be swallowed but swished around in your mouth and then spit out.

Bacteria that cause disease can become resistant to medicines used to treat those diseases or illnesses. When this happens, the medicines are no longer effective at killing or controlling the bacteria that cause the disease. Be sure to take antibiotics exactly as they are prescribed and for the exact amount of time prescribed. And never use leftover antibiotics for a different illness.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerSteven K. Patterson, BS, DDS, MPH - Dentistry
Last RevisedAugust 5, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 05, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Answer:
Never
(0)
Good
(1-3)
Better
(4-6)
Best
(7)

You are currently

Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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