Journal Article
Meta-Analysis
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Review
Add like
Add dislike
Add to saved papers

Systemic antibiotics for symptomatic apical periodontitis and acute apical abscess in adults.

BACKGROUND: Dental pain can have a detrimental effect on quality of life. Symptomatic apical periodontitis and acute apical abscess are common causes of dental pain and arise from an inflamed or necrotic dental pulp, or infection of the pulpless root canal system. Clinical guidelines recommend that the first-line treatment for these conditions should be removal of the source of inflammation or infection by local operative measures, and that systemic antibiotics are currently only recommended for situations where there is evidence of spreading infection (cellulitis, lymph node involvement, diffuse swelling) or systemic involvement (fever, malaise). Despite this, there is evidence that dentists frequently prescribe antibiotics in the absence of these signs. There is concern that this could contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This review is the second update of the original version first published in 2014.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effects of systemic antibiotics provided with or without surgical intervention (such as extraction, incision and drainage of a swelling, or endodontic treatment), with or without analgesics, for symptomatic apical periodontitis and acute apical abscess in adults.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched Cochrane Oral Health's Trials Register (26 February 2018 (discontinued)), CENTRAL (2022, Issue 10), MEDLINE Ovid (23 November 2022), Embase Ovid (23 November 2022), CINAHL EBSCO (25 November 2022) and two trials registries, and performed a grey literature search. There were no restrictions on language or date of publication.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials of systemic antibiotics in adults with a clinical diagnosis of symptomatic apical periodontitis or acute apical abscess, with or without surgical intervention (considered in this situation to be extraction, incision and drainage, or endodontic treatment) and with or without analgesics.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently screened the results of the searches against inclusion criteria, extracted data and assessed risk of bias. We used a fixed-effect model in the meta-analysis as there were fewer than four studies. We contacted study authors to request missing information. We used GRADE criteria to assess the certainty of the evidence.

MAIN RESULTS: There was one new completed trial on this topic since the last update in 2018. In total, we included three trials with 134 participants. Systemic antibiotics versus placebo with surgical intervention and analgesics for symptomatic apical periodontitis or acute apical abscess One trial (72 participants) compared the effects of a single preoperative dose of clindamycin versus a matched placebo when provided with a surgical intervention (endodontic chemo-mechanical debridement and filling) and analgesics to adults with symptomatic apical periodontitis. We assessed this study at low risk of bias. There were no differences in participant-reported pain or swelling across trial arms at any time point assessed. The median values for pain (numerical rating scale 0 to 10) were 3.0 in both groups at 24 hours (P = 0.219); 1.0 in the antibiotic group versus 2.0 in the control group at 48 hours (P = 0.242); and 0 in both groups at 72 hours and seven days (P = 0.116 and 0.673, respectively). The risk ratio of swelling when comparing preoperative antibiotic to placebo was 0.50 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.10 to 2.56; P = 0.41). The certainty of evidence for all outcomes in this comparison was low. Two trials (62 participants) compared the effects of a seven-day course of oral phenoxymethylpenicillin (penicillin VK) versus a matched placebo when provided with a surgical intervention (total or partial endodontic chemo-mechanical debridement) and analgesics to adults with acute apical abscess or symptomatic necrotic tooth. Participants in both trials also received oral analgesics. We assessed one study at high risk of bias and the other at unclear risk of bias. There were no differences in participant-reported pain or swelling at any time point assessed. The mean difference for pain (short ordinal numerical scale 0 to 3, where 0 was no pain) was -0.03 (95% CI -0.53 to 0.47) at 24 hours; 0.32 (95% CI -0.22 to 0.86) at 48 hours; and 0.08 (95% CI -0.38 to 0.54) at 72 hours. The standardised mean difference for swelling was 0.27 (95% CI -0.23 to 0.78) at 24 hours; 0.04 (95% CI -0.47 to 0.55) at 48 hours; and 0.02 (95% CI -0.49 to 0.52) at 72 hours. The certainty of evidence for all the outcomes in this comparison was very low. Adverse effects, as reported in two studies, were diarrhoea (one participant in the placebo group), fatigue and reduced energy postoperatively (one participant in the antibiotic group) and dizziness preoperatively (one participant in the antibiotic group). Systemic antibiotics without surgical intervention for adults with symptomatic apical periodontitis or acute apical abscess We found no studies that compared the effects of systemic antibiotics with a matched placebo delivered without a surgical intervention for symptomatic apical periodontitis or acute apical abscess in adults.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: The evidence suggests that preoperative clindamycin for adults with symptomatic apical periodontitis results in little to no difference in participant-reported pain or swelling at any of the time points included in this review when provided with chemo-mechanical endodontic debridement and filling under local anaesthesia. The evidence is very uncertain about the effect of postoperative phenoxymethylpenicillin for adults with localised apical abscess or a symptomatic necrotic tooth when provided with chemo-mechanical debridement and oral analgesics. We found no studies which compared the effects of systemic antibiotics with a matched placebo delivered without a surgical intervention for symptomatic apical periodontitis or acute apical abscess in adults.

Full text links

We have located links that may give you full text access.
Can't access the paper?
Try logging in through your university/institutional subscription. For a smoother one-click institutional access experience, please use our mobile app.

Related Resources

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app

Mobile app image

Get seemless 1-tap access through your institution/university

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app

All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2024 by WebMD LLC.
This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.

By using this service, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy.

Your Privacy Choices Toggle icon

You can now claim free CME credits for this literature searchClaim now

Get seemless 1-tap access through your institution/university

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app