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Oral Health Made Simple: Your Prescription For Knowledge
 PREVENT PROBLEMS
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 CONDITIONS
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 GENERAL TOPICS
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Erythromycin

Common brand names: E-mycin, Eryc

Description: Erythromycin is in a group of drugs called macrolide antibiotics. It is often prescribed to people who are allergic to penicillin.

Dental uses: Erythromycin is prescribed to treat:

  • Dental abscesses
  • Infections around wisdom teeth (pericoronitis)
  • Infections that develop after dental surgery

Dosages for dental purposes: The typical adult dosage is 250 milligrams to 500 milligrams every 6 hours, for 7 to 10 days. Dosing for children is based on body weight.

As with all medicines, be sure to follow your doctor's prescription. Take erythromycin for the prescribed length of time, even if you start to feel better. Do not stop taking it without talking to your doctor. Stopping an antibiotic too soon may cause bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics. This means the antibiotics won't work the next time.

Concerns and possible side effects: Tell your dentist and physician about all the medicines you take. This should include over-the-counter vitamins and herbal supplements. Also, let your dentist know if you have had a sensitive or allergic reaction to any medicine. If you are pregnant or nursing, or might be pregnant, talk to your primary care doctor before starting any new medicine. This also includes vitamins and supplements.

Side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Sunburning more easily — Avoid exposure to sunlight and tanning beds.

There also is a small risk for a serious heart condition called torsade de pointes. The risk may be higher when a dentist gives injections of local anesthesia that contain epinephrine/levonordefrin to someone who is taking erythromycin.

Erythromycin should not be taken with certain other drugs:

  • The asthma drug theophylline (Theo-Dur)
  • The blood-thinning agent warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Statins, such as lovastatin (Mevacor), simvastatin (Zocor) and atorvastatin (Lipitor)

This list is not complete and it continues to grow. Taking erythromycin with one of these drugs can cause a bad reaction. The erythromycin causes the other drug to build up in the body, sometimes to dangerous levels. This can be life-threatening. Tell your doctor about any reaction to a prescribed medicine, no matter how minor it might be.

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