Before certain types of dental treatment, your dentist might tell you that you need antibiotics.

The dental treatments that might require antibiotics are ususally a root canal or tooth extraction. The advising of antibiotics is when bacteria might be present in the mouth that could enter the bloodstream. During dental treatment, bacteria can enter our bloodstream and cause infections. If bacteria find their way in and around the heart then they can infect the heart valves or heart lining.

If inflammation is present then Infective endocarditis (IE) can develop which sometimes leads to serious problems. Possible health complications from IE include heart valve leakage and heart failure. Antibiotics before dental treatment

Controlling bacteria in the mouth

Bacteria thrives off remnants of food and drink that enter the mouth. Normally, a healthy body is able to handle constant bacteria in your mouth. Most bacteria are relatively harmless as long as you regularly floss and brush your teeth.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for everyone. Sometimes, there are bacteria present in someone with a weakened immune system. Infection can occur when the bacteria enter the bloodstream.

Our mouths are far more vulnerable to bacteria entering the bloodstream during dental work. Because of this, your dentist may suggest antibiotics before any dental treatment commences. Basically, “Antibiotic prophylaxis” before dental treatment is to prevent rather than cure.

Who is likely to benefit from the use of antibiotic prophylaxis?

Generally, your dentist recommends antibiotic prophylaxis if you suffer from heart problems, these include:

  • If you have one or more artificial heart valves.
  • If there is a history of health problems that affect the heart valves or the lining of the heart (IE).
  • You have had a heart transplant in the past and a problem developed with one of the heart’s valves.

Other situations when antibiotic prophylaxis may be recommended:

  • If you have a heart condition that has been with you since birth or if you were treated in the last 6 months for a heart defect that included a prosthetic.
  • If there are defects still present at the site where a defect was fixed. Or if the defect is close to a prosthetic device or patch.

Dosage of antibiotic prophylaxis

If there’s any chance of IE developing during dental treatment then antibiotics can be recommended.  One dose by mouth in a pill or liquid form took 1 hour before the dental treatment is the recommended dosage.  Once the treatment is completed, no further doses of antibiotics are required.

Talk to your dentist about antibiotic prophylaxis

Please talk to your dentist if you think you might need antibiotics before dental treatment.

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