Fact Checked

What are the Benefits and Side Effects of Amoxicillin for a Tooth Infection?

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

April 05, 2023

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. Greg Grillo, DDS

Amoxicillin is one of the most common antibiotics prescribed in the United States, with pharmacies filling more than 50 million amoxicillin prescriptions a year. This antibiotic can help with many bacterial infections, including tooth infections.

Here is what you should know about amoxicillin, including the benefits and side effects to expect when taking it for a tooth infection.

What Is Amoxicillin?

Amoxicillin is an antibiotic made from penicillin that fights bacterial infections, especially those that cause chest infections, like pneumonia, or dental infections. It is a prescription medication that comes in pill form.

How often you need to take the antibiotic depends on the infection you have, but usually, doctors recommend you take amoxicillin every 8 to 12 hours. Like all antibiotics, you need to stick to this schedule for amoxicillin to have the desired effect.

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Amoxicillin for Tooth Infection Problems

Amoxicillin is one of the antibiotics most commonly prescribed for tooth infections.

There are different types of tooth infections you may suffer from. One of these is a periapical abscess, which is an infection at the tip of a tooth's root that comes from an infected nerve chamber. This is one of the most common dental infections.

Another type of dental infection is a periodontal abscess. This is a bacterial infection in your gum tissue that can occur if you are unable to clean the gum around your teeth. It can be a result or a cause of periodontal disease and can lead to bone loss in the pockets that support your teeth.

A combination abscess is a mixture of these two types of infections, affecting both a tooth and the surrounding gum tissue. A combination abscess occurs when a tooth infection goes untreated and spreads into the gum and bone.

Although each type of infection has its own symptoms, there are some common tooth infection symptoms that can warn you of a problem. These include:

  • Tooth pain
  • Fever
  • Redness inside or outside the mouth
  • Swelling
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold in the area
  • A bad taste in the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing food
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Change in tooth color
  • Change in gum tissue color

When an infection occurs, it can be a consequence of dental work, like a root canal or tooth extraction, or due to poor oral hygiene.

If you have signs of a tooth infection, it's best to seek dental treatment immediately to prevent complications. For most tooth infections, your dentist may prescribe amoxicillin.

Benefits of Amoxicillin for Treating Dental Infections

Amoxicillin is one of the best antibiotic options available because it can offer many benefits for the treatment of a tooth infection.

Targets the Right Bacteria

Amoxicillin is very good at targeting the bacteria that cause tooth infections, which is one of the reasons it is so effective and why doctors prescribe it so often for these issues. It is one of the leading first-line antibiotics.

Amoxicillin can kill or slow down the bacteria that cause the abscess or other infections. For the best result, you need to complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed.

Children Can Take It

Children can take amoxicillin, as well as adults, as long as they don’t have a known allergy to penicillin. It is a powerful antibiotic, but the right dosage can be effective for children without serious side effects.


Oral amoxicillin is fast-acting, offering pain relief and protection from bacterial growth quickly after the first dose. When taken regularly and as your doctor prescribes, you can start seeing results in just a few days.

Prevents Infections

Before a dental procedure, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics like amoxicillin to prevent infections from occurring. This can help avoid complications, especially after surgical procedures and tooth extractions.

Side Effects of Amoxicillin

Amoxicillin is generally safe. However, as with other antibiotic options, it can still cause some side effects.

Nausea can be one of these side effects, which can become more severe and lead to vomiting.

If you experience these effects after taking amoxicillin for a tooth infection, you want to stick to simple foods and make sure to take the antibiotic with food instead of on an empty stomach. You will also want to drink lots of water, especially if you have experienced vomiting.

Diarrhea can be another concern when taking antibiotics like amoxicillin. You want to drink water to avoid dehydration. If the diarrhea gets more severe or if you see blood, prompt treatment is important.

If you experience a skin rash, you want to let your doctor know at once because it can mean that you need another type of antibiotic.

In rare cases, some people experience an allergic reaction to amoxicillin. If you develop an itchy rash or swelling in your face, or if you have trouble breathing, you may have an allergy to penicillin.

It is also important to know that taking antibiotics in any way other than prescribed can be dangerous. Taking more amoxicillin than you should can lead to a weakened immune system and the development of antibiotic resistance.

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Who Should Not Take Amoxicillin

If you have a tooth infection, it is likely that you can turn to amoxicillin for help fighting the bacteria. There are some people, however, who should not take amoxicillin.

If you have had previous allergic reactions to penicillin or to cephalosporin antibiotics, you may not be a good candidate for taking amoxicillin. 

Amoxicillin to treat dental infections can also interact with other medications, including:

  • Blood thinners
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Allopurinol
  • Probenecid
  • Other antibiotics

Additionally, there are some health conditions that can also impact whether you can treat tooth infections with amoxicillin.

These conditions may include:

  • Asthma
  • Hives
  • Hay fever
  • Kidney disease
  • Mononucleosis

Always let your doctor know about illnesses and allergies you have to avoid complications as you receive treatment for a tooth infection.

Prevent Tooth Infections

One of the best ways of avoiding developing an abscessed tooth is to focus on oral hygiene to promote your oral health. Having an excellent toothbrush, as well as flossing and going for regular dental appointments, can make a huge difference.

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Abscessed Tooth Frequently Asked Questions

If you experience tooth pain that points to an abscessed tooth, there are some common questions you may have.

How Long Does It Take for Amoxicillin to Work on an Abscessed Tooth?

It usually takes amoxicillin about two or three days to help you start feeling better when you're dealing with a tooth infection. A full course of antibiotics for an infected tooth can take a week to 14 days.

How Do You Know the Antibiotic Works?

Even after the first dose, you can start getting some relief from the symptoms of a dental abscess. You can start feeling less pain, as well as a decrease in swelling. If you have fever, the antibiotic will help bring it down.

Can You Take Painkillers with Antibiotics?

Taking over-the-counter painkillers, like ibuprofen, paracetamol, and aspirin, to help with pain relief as you deal with an abscessed tooth as the antibiotics work on the infection is normally fine. You always want to check with your doctor, however, to ensure this is safe for you.

Will a Tooth Infection Disappear on Its Own?

A tooth infection requires treatment. It does not resolve itself, and it can spread to surrounding tissues and other teeth. If you have a dental abscess, you need to get prompt medical attention.


If you have a tooth abscess, one of the best ways of treating it is with antibiotic use. There are many antibiotics available, but for a tooth abscess, doctors generally recommend amoxicillin. This powerful antibiotic can start working quickly on the abscessed tooth with few potential side effects.