With pediatric dentistry, perhaps more than any other form of dentistry, we are always looking for the easiest and fastest way to relieve the discomfort of patients that visit our dentist office. This is especially true because, with pediatric dentistry, we are dealing with children who do not understand their discomfort and want it gone quickly. In a sense, the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928 was a blessing for the entire profession. Antibiotics have given modern medicine the opportunity to take away most infections very quickly and effectively. This was a huge leap that allowed us to take on even the most stubborn bacterial infections and cure them, which led to other advancements and the ability to treat even more difficult problems. Naturally, as with any great discovery, there are cautions as well. At our practice, we believe in a more holistic form of treating our patients, which means that while antibiotics are on the table, they are not the option we jump to quickly. In fact, the question we often ask is not what antibiotic to use, but rather, if we actually need to use an antibiotic at all. In this regard, we prefer a much more measured and scientific approach to prescribing treatment. There are reasons for our caution.
As a dentist, we have watched the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry has issued a caution about antibiotics. Their overuse by the medical profession as a whole has literally given rise to strains of bacteria that are completely resistant to antibiotics, and this is not something a pediatric dentist wants to risk. So you will find that there are always alternatives we want to explore before going to an antibiotic treatment. With this approach for when we do prescribe them, the antibiotics are highly targeted and usually extremely effective. Being involved in pediatric dentistry, we completely understand a parent's desire to go quickly to antibiotics as a treatment. The results often speak for themselves. If your child has an infection that is causing them discomfort, giving them a fever, or even has swelling at the site of the infection, it is understandable that you would want to do whatever is necessary to eliminate this, and with an antibiotic, many parents will see an almost instantaneous result.
On the other hand, pediatric dentistry knows it is not the antibiotics that kill the bacterial infection. When your child is infected with foreign microorganisms, their immune system goes to war with these invaders. The antibiotics merely provide a way for the body to have balance, giving it a much-needed opportunity to recoup. Once this happens, your body will quickly and effectively neutralize the infection and kill whatever microorganisms are causing the problem. In addition, your child's body will learn what makes this infection tick, so should any similar infection ever appear, their body can very quickly create the solution for it. At the end of day, it is the body that is an ace infection fighter, so our job as a dentist is to provide it with whatever tools it need to fight this, or any infection effectively, even if not in the form of antibiotics.