Clindamycin for Tooth Infections: Benefits, Dosage and Side Effects

Toothache, Young Woman with Tooth Infection
Medically reviewed by Dr. Ola Tarabzuni

Key Takeaways

  • Clindamycin is a widely prescribed treatment option for dental infections.
  • It is prescribed when the infection is severe or the patient is allergic to Penicillin.
  • The tooth infection usually ends soon after completing the treatment.
  • Clindamycin is considered safe to take during breastfeeding and pregnancy.

Overview

Infections of the teeth can cause unbearable pain and other unpleasant symptoms. Clindamycin is an antibiotic that is widely prescribed by dental professionals because of its effectiveness in treating dental abscesses and oral cavity infections.

In this article, we’ll discuss the many advantages of using Clindamycin to treat tooth infections, including the drug’s uses and efficacy. When you have given this article a read, you’ll have a complete understanding of why clindamycin is the standard treatment for tooth infections.

Is clindamycin good for tooth infections?

Pain from a tooth infection or abscess can be excruciating with pus and swelling, so getting treatment as soon as possible is important. Commonly penicillin is prescribed for tooth infection but your dentist may prescribe clindamycin based on your individual condition. 

According to a study published in National Institutes of Health, Clindamycin was found equally effective in tooth infection as Penicillin V. Therefore, it is not uncommon for dentists to prescribe clindamycin to treat tooth infections caused by bacteria.

Bacterial tooth infections can be effectively treated with clindamycin. It relieves pain and stops further complications from developing because of its antimicrobial properties. Clindamycin is prescribed when the infection is particularly severe, dentists will prescribe clindamycin.

Is clindamycin good for abscess? See an Online Doctor

What are the Benefits of Taking Clindamycin For a Tooth Infection?

Clindamycin is effective against a wide variety of bacteria, including the Streptococcus species, which are a common cause of dental infections. It is well-known for its effectiveness; patients typically experience marked improvement within the first few days of treatment. 

Clindamycin is an alternative treatment option when penicillin-based antibiotics are ineffective or when resistance has developed to other antibiotics, thereby lowering the risk of antibiotic resistance. Clindamycin is prescribed for tooth infection or abscess only; it is not recommended for toothache that is not accompanied by swelling or dental infection.

Potent Antibacterial Activity

The bacteria that cause tooth infections are particularly susceptible to clindamycin’s powerful antibacterial properties. It is an antibiotic in the lincosamide class and kills bacteria by blocking their ability to make proteins.

The mechanism by which clindamycin works makes it effective against many different types of bacteria, including streptococci, staphylococci, and anaerobic bacteria that commonly cause tooth infections.

Effective Against Resistant Bacteria

In some cases, tooth infections may be caused by bacteria that are resistant to other commonly prescribed antibiotics. Clindamycin, however, has demonstrated effectiveness against antibiotic-resistant strains, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This makes it an invaluable option when other antibiotics fail to yield desired results, ensuring successful treatment outcomes even in challenging cases.

Excellent Tissue Penetration

Clindamycin’s ability to reach deep into the affected tissues is a major benefit. Infections in teeth can spread to the gums, bones, and even the soft tissues of the face. Because of its superior tissue penetration, clindamycin is able to effectively treat these infection sites and speed up the healing process.

Reduced Inflammation and Pain

Inflammation and pain caused by a tooth infection can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. The inflammation and pain caused by tooth infections can be reduced by clindamycin because it eliminates the source of the infection. Clindamycin’s effective management of these symptoms allows patients to feel better and get back to their normal routines.

How long does it take clindamycin to work for bacterial infection?

In most cases, patients feel better within 72 hours. Depending on the severity of the infection and the individual’s response, the length of time that clindamycin takes to work can vary. Even if your symptoms improve before the end of your antibiotic treatment, you should still take all of your pills as directed by your dentist.

Should I take clindamycin for 7 or 10 days? Speak with Online Doctor

What is Clindamycin dosing for dental infection? 

Adults are advised to take 300mg–600 mg every 8 hours. Clindamycin is also recommended by some researchers as a treatment of choice for tooth infection. Depending on the severity of the infection and the patient’s overall health, the recommended dosage of clindamycin for dental infections may change. Always finish the full course of treatment that your dentist recommends.

What are the possible side effects of using Clindamycin?

Clindamycin is classified under pregnancy category B drugs and is considered safe to use in pregnancy or while breastfeeding. However, normally it may have the following side effects that can vary from person to person: 

  • Sickness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Reduced appetite
  • Stomach pain

Once treatment is finished, these side effects typically disappear. However, if you experience severe or ongoing discomfort, you should see your dentist or doctor right away. 

Read More: Is It Sinus Or Tooth Pain? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Allergic Reaction to Clindamycin

Some people may have an allergic reaction to clindamycin, but it’s extremely unusual. If you have an allergic reaction to clindamycin you may have symptoms within 30 minutes of the drug intake.

Some of the mild to severe symptoms that can accompany an allergic reaction include: 

  • Rash
  • Itchy hives
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Swelling around throat
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Decrease in the amount of urine
  • Swollen lymph nodes, rash, and fever
  • Redness and blistering of the skin
  • Unusual vaginal discharge


Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis shock is possible with clindamycin and can be life-threatening. The anaphylactic reaction to clindamycin is uncommon but if you notice any of the symptoms seek immediate professional help. 

If you have a history of allergic reactions or digestive problems that can cause diarrhea, inform your doctor so that alternate treatment options can be reconsidered.

While you are on an antibiotic treatment it can cause an imbalance of your gut bacteria leading to a severe digestive tract infection called C. difficile Colitis. The overgrowth of bacteria in C. diff can cause severe infection and Clindamycin is more commonly associated with it than any other antibiotic. It has a black box warning for this adverse effect.

The following are the symptoms of C.diff:

  1. Frequent watery diarrhea with blood or pus
  2. Acute abdominal pain
  3. Reduced appetite
  4. Slight fever
Is 3 days of clindamycin enough? Speak with Online Doctor

What should I avoid while using clindamycin?

Certain substances and activities should be avoided while taking clindamycin to ensure the medication’s efficacy and to prevent potential complications. Among these safety measures are:

  • You should not drink alcohol while taking clindamycin because it may increase the likelihood of side effects.
  • It is recommended to wait at least 2 hours after taking clindamycin before taking any antacids or mineral supplements containing calcium, magnesium, or aluminum.
  • Drug interactions can be avoided if you tell your dentist or doctor about all the medications you’re currently taking. If you are taking any of the following medicines already share these with your dentist:
  1. Erythromycin
  2. Anti-diarrheal medications
  3. Muscle relaxants

FAQs About Clindamycin for Tooth Infections

Is clindamycin a penicillin?

No, clindamycin does not belong to the penicillin class of antibiotics. It belongs to the class of antibiotics known as lincosamides.

How long do clindamycin side effects last?

Clindamycin side effects mostly end as soon as the treatment ends. However, some side effects may last for a couple of days. Seek medical attention if your side effects do not go away.

Does clindamycin make you tired?

Clindamycin rarely causes tiredness or drowsiness. However, you should see a doctor if you find yourself excessively fatigued or if you have any other concerning symptoms.

How many days should you take clindamycin 300 mg?

The ideal time period is between 7 and 14 days, but your dentist will decide. Clindamycin treatment duration is conditional on the seriousness of the infection being treated.

What happens if you don’t eat with clindamycin?

Clindamycin may cause gastrointestinal distress if taken on an empty stomach. Clindamycin side effects can be reduced if you take the drug with food.

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

  • Arteagoitia I, Sánchez FR, Figueras A, Arroyo-Lamas N. Is clindamycin effective in preventing infectious complications after oral surgery? Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clin Oral Investig. 2022 Jun;26(6):4467-4478. doi: 10.1007/s00784-022-04411-2. Epub 2022 Mar 2. PMID: 35235059; PMCID: PMC9203405.
  • American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Anaphylaxis
  • Avdic, Edina, and Paul A Pham. “Clindamycin.” Johns Hopkins ABX Guide, The Johns Hopkins University, 2018. Johns Hopkins Guides, www.hopkinsguides.com/hopkins/view/Johns_Hopkins_ABX_Guide/540131/all/Clindamycin.
  • Dar-Odeh NS, Abu-Hammad OA, Al-Omiri MK, Khraisat AS, Shehabi AA. Antibiotic prescribing practices by dentists: a review. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2010 Jul 21;6:301-6. doi: 10.2147/tcrm.s9736. PMID: 20668712; PMCID: PMC2909496.
  • Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed®) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; 2006-. Clindamycin. [Updated 2021 Feb 15]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501208/
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is C. diff?

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