A common question patients have when getting getting their wisdom teeth out is should I be taking antibiotics? However, before addressing the issue of antibiotics one should question as to why they are having their wisdom teeth removed. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence has found no reliable evidence to support the removal of healthy impacted wisdom teeth, and has actually recommended that this practice is stopped due to the risk of nerve damage and permanent complications.
If you do need to have 1 or 2 of your wisdom teeth extracted due to continued problems with them then you will be faced with the question of taking antibiotics. The simple answer to this question is no, you should not take antibiotics unless you have a prior infection. If this is the case you should start the antibiotics before going in for surgery.
You may be wondering about why you should not take antibiotics if you do not have a current infection as there is a possibility of infection with having the procedure done. In fact patients who have their wisdom teeth removed and don’t take antibiotics before surgery are twice as likely to get an infection after the surgery than those who took one dose of antibiotics before the extraction.
So it is clear that there is a benefit of taking antibiotics before the procedure, but the reason only patients who are at greater risk of infection such as heart problems or a preexisting infection should take antibiotics before the surgery is due to antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in a way that reduces their effectiveness. These resistant bacteria survive and multiply – causing more harm and a need for more expensive and toxic antibiotics. Resistant bacteria may even cause death and is feared by E.R. physicians. Unfortunately few pharmaceutical companies are now involved in antibiotic development, and if current antibiotics no longer work this will pose serious health problems.