When you think of an emergency dentist, it is very rare that this conjures up any pleasant images. Most people know that if you have to see any medical professional for an urgent treatment, you are probably not a very happy camper. When it comes to seeing an emergency dentist, there are several reasons that parents bring their children to see us, including having damaged their teeth in a traumatic accident or because of decay. In either case, there is a risk of infection, which can lead to extreme amounts of discomfort. When they come in to see us, our primary goal is to make sure we deal with the discomfort and take care of any infections that may have set in or may be oncoming. The pain usually can be dealt with using standard pain medication, allowing us to turn our attention to the infection pretty quickly.
There are several ways to remove the infection, including surgical means, or more commonly, with a treatment of antibiotics. Since they were first discovered, antibiotics have been one of the most powerful weapons we have to prevent and remove infections. In 1928, Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, leading to antibiotics, which completely changed the conversation when it came to taking care of bacterial infections. Considering that most infections in the mouth are actually bacterially based, this discovery was a miracle for dentists everywhere. It is, however, important to remember that when they get a prescription from an emergency dentist, you are basically getting a Band-Aid fix and will need to follow-up with whatever treatment we recommend. Identifying and resolving the cause of any infection and pain they have will be extremely important so there is zero chance of the infection coming back.
As an emergency dentist, we know people place a great deal of faith in antibiotics, and we understand the allure of a drug that does such an amazing job of helping your child to feel better. For a patient who is suffering from pain, swelling at the site of the infection, and possibly a fever, among other symptoms, being able to get relief almost instantly is a miracle. We understand this. But as an emergency dentist, we also are cognizant of the fact that medications like antibiotics must be used in small, targeted doses, so you do not run the risk of developing an infection resistant to the medication. Over the last several years, the over-prescription of antibiotics in all branches of medicine has resulted in an alarming rise in the number of such cases.
One popular myth is that antibiotics actually fight and cure diseases. The reality is that antibiotics are designed to restore balance between the body and the invading infection. What this does is allow the body to recover its balance, and once this happens, the body will use its own antibodies to take care of the disease. This is also why, as an emergency dentist, we prescribe antibiotics and then also work to find the source of the infection and remove it.