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Do I Need to Take Antibiotics Before a Dental Visit?

August 11, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — drheim @ 9:55 pm
Woman has questioning expression

During routine dental appointments or common procedures, oral bacteria can theoretically be introduced to the bloodstream. While a healthy immune system should be expected to eliminate these intruders, certain health conditions can make it advisable to take antibiotics before a dental appointment. Read on to learn about what conditions and procedures can require a patient to take antibiotics before arriving at the dentist’s office.

What Dental Procedures Can Introduce Bacteria to the Bloodstream?

While it has not been proven that certain dental procedures can introduce bacteria to the bloodstream, there is a strong association between the two. Procedures that could theoretically allow bacteria into the circulatory system include cleanings, root canals, dental crowns, and tooth extractions. Studies have also shown a similar association between bacteria entering the bloodstream and typical everyday oral activities like chewing, clenching, flossing, and brushing, but good oral hygiene can greatly reduce this risk.

Heart Conditions Can Require Antibiotics Before a Dentist Appointment

Patients with heart conditions may need to take antibiotics before their dental appointment to prevent infective endocarditis, or infections of the lining and valves of the heart. Currently, the American Heart Association only recommends antibiotics before dental appointments for patients at a high risk for infective endocarditis. Heart conditions that could require pre-dentist antibiotics include:

  • Prosthetic heart valve or valve repairs using a prosthetic material
  • A heart transplant with an abnormally functioning valve
  • A medical history of endocarditis
  • Congenital heart defects like:
    • Cyanotic congenital heart disease, including those found in children with surgical shunts and conduits
    • A defect that has been repaired with prosthetic material in the last six months
    • Heart repairs with residual defects like persistent leaks or abnormal flow around the repair site.

Other Conditions Can Also Require Antibiotic Treatment Before a Dentist Appointment

Dentists also use antibiotics as a precaution against infection for patients with chronic oral infections, especially those that involve fever or swelling. They might also be used for patients with compromised immune systems due to diabetes, cancer, chemotherapy, chronic steroid use, or other reasons.

Patients with prosthetic joints were formerly thought to require antibiotics before dental appointments, but the American Dental Association currently recommends against the practice.

Providing your dentist with your complete medical history can allow them to determine if you should be treated with antibiotics before your appointment. A dental exam is meant to keep you well, and that includes preventing infections that could happen during one.

About the Practice

Heim & Carroll DMD, LLC provides the highest quality of care to the community of Glastonbury, CT. Led by Drs. Brad Heim, John Carroll, and Veronica Yu, the skilled staff delivers personalized treatments in a safe and friendly setting. Services include general, restorative, cosmetic, and emergency dentistry. For more information about why a patient would need to take antibiotics before a dental appointment, contact the office online or dial (860) 633-2031.

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