If you need a dental procedure, you might wonder whether you need to take antibiotics first. Like so much in life, the answer is “it depends.” Dentists do recommend that certain patients take antibiotics before some procedures. However, antibiotic prophylaxis is not routinely recommended for all patients. Here is what you should know.

Antibiotics Before Dental Appointment

The Risks

Everyone has bacteria in their mouths, and dental treatments can allow the bacteria to enter the bloodstream. In a healthy person, those bacteria will be taken care of by the body rather than causing any harm. For people with certain conditions, though, the bacteria could lead to an infection in another part of the body.

The American Heart Association’s guidelines, revised in 2008, recommend that dentists consider antibiotic prophylaxis for patients with the following underlying conditions:

  •         Artificial heart valves
  •         A history of infective endocarditis (infection in the lining of the heart or heart valves)
  •         A heart transplant with complications in one or more heart valves
  •         Unrepaired cyanotic congenital heart disease, including people with palliative shunts
  •         Heart defects repaired with a prosthetic during the first six months following repair
  •         Residual heart defects that remain after repair

Antibiotic prophylaxis is no longer recommended for people with other heart conditions, such as mitral valve prolapse, heart murmur, bicuspid valve disease, rheumatic heart disease, calcified aortic stenosis, or heart conditions present since birth that are not detailed above.

Antibiotic prophylaxis is not longer routinely prescribed for those who have artificial joints. However, dentists are encouraged to assess these patients on a case by case basis to determine if antibiotics are warranted. In particular, those who have artificial joints along with a compromised immune system due to diabetes, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, chemotherapy, or chronic use of steroids may be at increased risk of infection.

What Should I Do?

Always provide your dentist with a full health history. If you have an orthopedic implant or a heart condition, ask your dentist whether antibiotic prophylaxis is the right choice for you.

Of course, it is always better to prevent the need for extensive dental procedures. Minimize your risk of developing dental disease by brushing your teeth at least twice per day, flossing at least once per day, and obtaining a professional cleaning every six months.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are ready to take the first steps toward improving your dental health, we invite you to contact Family Dental Care of Bellevue today at 425-643-5778 to make an appointment for your initial consultation.

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