What do experts say about taking antibiotics before dental procedures?
In the past, it was recommended by doctors and the AHA (American Heart Association) that people with certain “high risks” take a round of antibiotics before any dental procedure or surgery. This was done to reduce the risk of an infection in your heart lining or valves (or other areas of your body) thought to be caused by bacteria in your mouth. High-risk people included those with certain heart conditions such as mummers and having a recent joint replacement. But things have changed now due to studies showing that past concerns regarding infections after dental procedures were not founded.
Your Mouth is Full of Bacteria
Your mouth generally is full of bacteria. This bacteria can be dislodged during regular teeth brushing, flossing, and eating. It usually does not cause infections in your mouth (unless you do not brush and floss regularly). With careful studies being done, it was determined that during regular dental procedures, most of the previous potential list of at-risk people, were not at risk of further infections due to dislodged bacteria, therefore not needing antibiotic treatment beforehand.
Unwanted Side Effects of Antibiotics
Many people have unwanted side effects from antibiotics. These can include allergic reactions, diarrhea, stomach pain, and more. Also, many people in the United States have become resistant to common antibiotics due to them being overprescribed. Therefore, it is important that you only take antibiotics for the most needed situations and the highest risk for infection.
Who should take antibiotics before dental procedures?
- You have a history of endocarditis
- Abnormal heart valve function after a heart transplant
- Prosthetic heart valve
- A heart valve repaired with prosthetic material
- Cyanotic congenital heart disease that has not been fully repaired (including children with surgical conduits and shunts)
- The first 6 months after having a congenital heart defect repaired with prosthetic material or device
- Residual defects with a repaired congenital heart disease
- Immunocompromised patients who’ve had total joint replacement procedures
Always check with your doctor if you are unsure about these guidelines prior to any dental procedure. And always make sure that your dentist is aware of any of these issues too.
In what other instances can my dentist prescribe antibiotics for me?
If you have signs of an acute infection in your mouth with fever, swelling, and other symptoms, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics. Tooth and gum abscesses can spread to other areas. This is always a cause for concern and should be taken care of as soon as possible.
- Compromised Immunity
If you have a compromised immune system due to cancer, chemotherapy or radiation treatment, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and more, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics before dental surgery. But this will be a case-by-case situation. Everything is discussed beforehand to determine what is the best way forward for you in this situation.
Always let your dentist know your complete health history and any medications you are currently taking. Also, any medications that you are allergic to. In addition, the best preventative dental medicine is taking good care of your teeth by daily brushing, flossing, rinsing, and eating right.
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