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Oral Health Topics

Antibiotic Stewardship

Key Points

  • The ADA supports prudent use of antibiotics to minimize the risk of adverse effects and development of drug-resistant bacteria.
  • Antibiotic prophylaxis prior to dental procedures should be reserved for patients at high risk of post-treatment complications.
  • According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “appropriate antibiotic prescribing means antibiotics are only prescribed when needed, and when needed, the right antibiotic is selected and prescribed at the right dose and for the right duration” and “appropriate antibiotic prescribing should be in accordance with evidence-based national and local clinical practice guidelines, when available.”
  • The ADA Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry published a clinical practice guideline on antibiotic use for the urgent management of pulpal- and periapical-related dental pain and intra-oral swelling, recommending against use of antibiotics for most of these conditions and instead recommending only the use of dental treatment and, if needed, over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
  • Introduction
  • Antibiotic Resistance
  • Antibiotics: Adverse Effects
  • C. Difficile Infection
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis
  • Antibiotics for Therapeutic Use
  • References
  • ADA Resources
  • Other Resources
Last Updated: September 29, 2020

Prepared by:

Department of Scientific Information, Evidence Synthesis & Translation Research, ADA Science & Research Institute, LLC.


Content on the Oral Health Topics section of is for informational purposes only.  Content is neither intended to nor does it establish a standard of care or the official policy or position of the ADA; and is not a substitute for professional judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  ADA is not responsible for information on external websites linked to this website.