Pediatric Dentistry And The Use Of Antibiotics

Pediatric DentistryIn pediatric dentistry, we are always looking for the easiest way to treat our young patients. This is because, with children, there is a sense of urgency in taking away their discomfort and making sure it does not return. This is true for any dentist, but especially true when you are dealing with pediatric dentistry. To that end, the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928 completely changed the dimensions of how we view bacterial infections in children. For a dentist, this was a huge leap that allowed us to change the conversation about dental infections and gave us a silver bullet to deal with them in children. However, at our dental practice, we make sure we reserve antibiotics as a powerful tool only to be used if absolutely necessary. There are two reasons for this. First, we know that patients, children, in particular, have many options available that are far more likely to build up their own resistance. Second, the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry has recognized that there is an increasing proliferation of microorganisms resistant to the antibiotics that are supposed to control them. This condition has arisen because, for years, doctors and dentists all treated antibiotics with a degree of callousness, prescribing them freely. We do not want your child, or you, to ever have to deal with a resistant strain of a bacterial infection, and so when we prescribe antibiotics, it is targeted to be effective. Naturally, many patients want the quick fix for their children, often confused by the urban legends and myths that exist about antibiotics. Part of our job as your pediatric dentist is to clear up some of these myths and ensure you have a clear understanding about what exactly antibiotics do and how they can help you.

Believe it or not, it is a myth that antibiotics can kill the infection pediatric dentistry is trying to treat. Much to the contrary, the antibiotics are only a second player in this war against the infection. Your child's body will do all the heavy lifting. An antibiotic is designed to control the microorganism that is causing all the havoc. When this happens, balance is restored, allowing your child's own immune system to take care of the problem. With its own antibodies, the body can and will take care of over 60 percent of any infections without any need for external help. Even in cases when there is an antibiotic used, the body is the one that will fight and kill the microorganism. Far more importantly, the body will learn what makes this organism tick, so the next time it encounters a similar infection, it can produce the antibodies very quickly.

In addition to this, the use of antibiotics is not an exact science. Since it is your body - or your child's, in the case of pediatric dentistry - that will cure the infection, we use experience and extensive knowledge to prescribe a course of antibiotics that will be more than enough backup for the body to do what it does best. At the end of the day, what we want is to cure the infection, find and resolve its root cause, and do so with minimal interference to the body's own disease-fighting mechanisms.


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