Do I Need an Antibiotic Before my Dental Procedure

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do i need an antibiotic before my dental procedureServing Brentwood, Belle Meade and Green Hills Areas of Nashville TN

Prescribing an antibiotic for patients prior to a dental cleaning has been the norm for those with a history of heart problems or joint replacement. This is known as antibiotic prophylaxis and is done so to prevent oral bacteria from entering the patient’s bloodstream and causing an infection in the heart or joints. However, with antibiotic resistance on the rise, it is important to note when antibiotics are actually necessary, and when they are not.

According to the American Dental Association, it is recommended that patients with these specific heart conditions take antibiotics before their dental procedure. If you have one of these heart conditions and end up with an infection in your heart following your dental procedure, it could be detrimental to your health, or even cost you your life!

The following conditions would warrant the need for antibiotics before your procedure:

  • Artificial heart valve
  • Endocarditis (currently or previously)
  • Heart transplant in which there are heart valve problems
  • Heart defects such as unrepaired cyanotic congenital heart disease

There are many other heart conditions in which antibiotic prophylaxis is not necessary, such as the following:

  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • Bicuspid valve disease
  • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Septal defects (ventricle or arterial)
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Regarding joint replacement, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery recommends that patients who previously had a joint replacement surgery such as a knee, hip or shoulder replacement also receive antibiotics before undergoing a dental cleaning.

Why is antibiotic prophylaxis necessary in some cases?

There are millions of bacteria that live inside our mouths. These bacteria live and thrive on the plaque that builds up around our teeth and gums. During a dental cleaning, this plaque along with the harmful bacteria, is dislodged. Your dental hygienist is careful to rinse your mouth out, but it is certainly possible that during your dental cleaning, you may swallow some of your saliva that contains the bacteria. Because of this influx of bacteria in your system, it could find its way to your heart or artificial joints. The bacteria could cause infective endocarditis of the heart or joint infection.

Who does not need antibiotic prophylaxis?

If you do not fall under either of these categories, it is likely that you do not need an antibiotic before your dental treatment or cleaning. However, be sure to ask the dentist before you have any dental work done – one more reason why you should share your complete health history with your Nashville dentist so that he can determine if antibiotics should be prescribed or not.

Why is antibiotic resistance a problem?

The problem with antibiotic resistance is that many physicians are overprescribing these medications, which cause many different strands of bacterias to become resistant to treatment. This can be a problem, because as the resistance increases, antibiotics may not work on certain bacterias. However, if it is necessary for you to take an antibiotic before your dental treatment, be sure you take the pills prescribed exactly as intended.  

What if I am unsure whether I need antibiotic prophylaxis?

The best course of action if you are not sure whether you need antibiotics before your procedure, is to discuss your concern with the dentist and your doctor. A review of your complete health history will determine if it is necessary.

Dental Care in Nashville

To schedule an appointment, please contact the office of Devine Dentistry by calling (615) 269-4209 today!

Devine Dentistry is proud to provide total oral care for patients in the middle Tennessee communities of Belle Meade, Green Hills, and Nashville.