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Published by [email protected], 2019-12-14 15:27:57




Ensure evidence-
based antibiotic
references are
readily available
during patient

While most clinicians are well versed in the
antibiotic choices for oral bacterial
infections, there are several recognized
prescribing reference resources and it is
prudent for the clinician to have at least one
readily available.

Avoid prescribing based on non-
evidence-based historical
practices, patient demand,
convenience, or pressure from

Social or other non-evidence based pressures may
try to influence the clinician's decision-making in
situations where antibiotic use is not indicated.   It is
important to avoid such pressure, as it may lead to
inappropriate antibiotic use and result in a poor
clinical outcome for the patient.  

Patient and staff education on antibiotic prescribing
protocols, the signs and symptoms of an oral
bacterial infection, the proper sequence of care, the
rationale for initiating antibiotic therapy and its
duration, are all important steps in minimizing the
risk of poor antibiotic decision-making related to
external pressure.

Periodic discussion of antibiotic prescribing
protocols between referring clinicians will insure use
of the most up-to-date protocols and reduce
conflicts or confusion associated with antibiotic use
when sharing a patient's care.

Make and
document the
treatment steps,
and rationale for
antibiotic use (if
prescribed) in the
patient chart.

Clearly and completely document the diagnosis of an
oral bacterial infection, the treatment steps and the
rationale for treatment decisions, including the decision
to initiate antibiotic therapy.

Documentation shortcuts, understandably common
among busy practitioners, may be a source of
confusion or concern when records are later reviewed
for treatment decisions and rationale.

Prescribe only when
clinical signs and
symptoms of a bacterial
infection suggest
systemic immune
response, such as fever
or malaise along with
local oral swelling.

A local oral bacterial infection is best and
effectively handled with mechanical interventions
to eliminate the irritant or foreign body causing
the infection. Common treatments include
extraction, endodontic therapy, and
cleaning/irrigation of the infected site.

Once effective cleaning and removal of the
irritation is accomplished, the body's immune
system should clear up any remaining infection.
Antibiotics are seldom necessary.

Prescribe only when
clinical signs and
symptoms of a bacterial
infection suggest
systemic immune
response, such as fever
or malaise along with
local oral swelling.

Antibiotic therapy is appropriate, however, if there
are signs and symptoms, such as fever and malaise,
that the body's immune system is not containing the
infection and the patient is starting to experience a
systemic response.

Antibiotic therapy in these situations is used to
control the infection, while the local infection
control measures used to remove the cause of the
infection   (extraction, drainage, irrigation and/or
endodontic treatment) can be carried out and be
given time to work.

Use the most targeted (narrow-spectrum)
antibiotic for the shortest duration possible (2-3
days after the clinical signs and symptoms
subside) for otherwise healthy patients.

Most bacterial organisms associated with oral infections are
sensitive to the penicillins, making it the first drug of choice, as

Penicillin VK, 500 mg given 4Xday or amoxicillin, 500 mg
given 3Xday.
If there is no response in 48-72 hours then amoxicillin
protected from beta-lactamase with clavulanic acid
(Augmentin) can be tried or switch to clindamycin 300 mg
given 4 times a day. If the patient has a true (IgE mediated)
allergy to penicillins, then the drug of choice is clindamycin,
300 mg given 4Xday.
Patients unable to take clindamycin may be prescribed
azithromycin, 500 mg given 1Xday.
The number of pills prescribed should be enough for 10
days and the patient instructed to take the antibiotic as
prescribed for 2-3 days after all clinical signs and symptoms
are gone.
Clinicians should urge disposal of unused drugs immediately
upon completion of treatment and counsel patients on drug
disposal options (see below for more detail).  

Revise empiric antibiotic regimens on the basis
of patient progress and, if needed, culture

All patients taking an antibiotic for a bacterial infection
should be followed closely to make sure the infection is
resolving and that there are no adverse effects occurring.
A patient taking an antibiotic as prescribed, following a
proper incise and drain, should start to see a positive
response in 48-72 hours. Patients not improving in that
timeframe, or experiencing adverse responses to the
antibiotic should be re-evaluated and their antibiotic
changed to the next drug of choice.
For poorly responding patients, a consultation with a
specialist may be appropriate, as well as a culture and
sensitivity test to insure the correct antibiotic has been

Discuss antibiotic use and
prescribing protocols with
referring specialists.

All clinicians managing a patient's care should utilize
similar evidence-based resources and protocols, including
the first, second, and third drugs of choice, at the proper
dosage, for the proper duration.
The use of similar protocols improves the care of shared
patients and decreases the risk of conflict for the clinicians
and the risk of confusion for the patient.
Sharing disease management and treatment ideas among
clinicians is an important source of continuing education.

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