One of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics in general dentistry is clindamycin. It is often recommended for abscessed teeth and gum infections, and while it is effective in preventing and resolving infections, it can produce severe adverse reactions, including extreme bacterial overgrowth in the intestines. Other side effects include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, throat irritation, white patches in the oral cavity, and joint pain. Here are some steps you can take at home to minimize adverse reactions from this widely used antibiotic:

Eat Yogurt

Clindamycin is highly effective in eradicating "bad bacteria"; however, while doing so, it can also get rid of the "good bacteria" in your gut. When this happens, you may experience abdominal cramping, diarrhea, upper digestive pain, nausea, and loss of appetite.

To help restore optimal bacterial flora and reduce your risk of stomach problems, eat yogurt containing live cultures to help repopulate your lower gastrointestinal tract with good bacteria. Make sure that the label on the yogurt container states that the product has live cultures, because some do not. According to About Yogurt, "there are products in the marketplace that take advantage of yogurt's healthful image, but that do not contain live and active cultures." 


Another common adverse reaction to clindamycin is muscle and joint pain. Taking an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, will help keep discomfort at bay and will also help reduce your fever if you have an elevated temperature as a result of a dental infection. Ibuprofen and aspirin should only be taken if you do not have preexisting blood clotting or kidney disorders because these drugs can lead to renal insufficiency and abnormal bleeding.

If you are already taking a prescription pain reliever for your tooth, talk to your dentist before taking NSAIDs. Your prescription analgesic may already contain an anti-inflammatory drug, which may lead to an accidental overdose if taken with non-prescription NSAIDs.

Decrease Dosage

Many clindamyin side effects are dose dependent. This means that your risk for developing adverse reactions are greater with larger doses. If your dentist feels that it is imperative that you remain on clindamycin therapy despite your side effects, the dosage might be reduced.

If, however, your symptoms persist despite a lower dosage, your dental professional may discontinue the antibiotic and replace it with another antimicrobial medication that has fewer side effects. If you develop severe diarrhea, vomiting, or stomach pain while taking clindamycin, your dentist will probably not decrease the dosage, but instead, discontinue the antibiotic altogether. 

Take Probiotics

In addition to eating yogurt, taking an over-the-counter probiotic will help repopulate your gastrointestinal tract with "friendly bacteria." The more friendly bacteria you have in your lower gastrointestinal tract, the less likely you are to experience stomach distress such as diarrhea. While eating yogurt can help ease your symptoms, it may not be enough to completely eliminate them, necessitating the need for a probiotic supplement.

If you take probiotic supplements, be sure to take them a couple hours either before or after taking your clindamycin. Taking them at the same time may render the antibiotic less effective in treating your infection. While uncommon, probiotic supplements can cause bloating, intestinal gas, upset stomach, and diarrhea.

These symptoms may be indistinguishable from those caused by clindamycin, so if you experience them, your physician or dentist may recommend that you discontinue probiotic therapy. In addition to yogurt, foods that provide probiotic benefits include sauerkraut, sour pickles, miso soup, and certain cheeses. Consider eating these beneficial foods if you are unable to tolerate probiotic supplements.

If you experience side effects from your dental antibiotics and the above remedies are ineffective in controlling your symptoms, talk to your dentist about alternative treatments. The sooner your side effects are recognized and managed, the less likely you are to experience complications such as diarrhea-related dehydration and nutritional deficiencies. You can click here to get in touch with a dental clinic and begin addressing the side effects of your medication.