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Antibiotics and Dentistry

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You know there is bacteria in your mouth.  Since you were a child, you were probably told how dirty a bite from someone could be, and that bacteria in your mouth causes plaque and plaque causes cavities and gum disease.  Bacteria in your mouth can cause a lot more than cavities and gum disease.  It can spread throughout your entire system, causing numerous other issues.

At one time, many dentists recommended taking antibiotics before dental work, even cleanings, to protect post-surgical patients from developing an infection from the bacteria in the mouth.  Any post-surgical patient was prescribed antibiotics.  As more information became available, the determination was that only a smaller group of post-surgical need to take an antibiotic prior to dental work.  This recommendation now encompasses those with infective endocarditis and those who have had total joint replacement.

Infective Endocarditis

Infective endocarditis effects those with certain cardiac issues.  Among those patients are those with artificial heart valves, any cardiac transplant where a heart valve issue developed or someone with a preexisting infective endocarditis history.  Some dental patients have congenital heart conditions; conditions that have been present since birth.  These include cyanotic congenital heart disease, any repaired heart defect that was repaired with a prosthetic material (within the first 6 months of the surgery) and any birth defect that was partially repaired and still has a defect.  Any time a cardiac patient has a question regarding taking an antibiotic prior to a dental procedure, we encourage them to contact our office.

Total Joint Replacement

Patients who have had total joint replacements are also among the patients that dentists recommend getting an antibiotic prior to dental work.  Patients who have had knee or hip replacements typically use an antibiotic to keep bacterial contamination of the joint implant.  Swelling, having the joint warm to the touch and fever are symptoms associated with infection.  Swelling of a joint replacement can cause pain by not allowing the implant to fit correctly. An infection in a joint replacement is a serious health issue.  The bacteria that has found its way to a joint replacement taxes the immune system by trying to fight off the challenging infection it causes.

As always, for any questions, please ask our doctors and staff if you have questions or concerns about taking antibiotics prior to your dental work.  Bacteria is not something to be taken likely.  Infections traveling through your body may have lethal consequences.

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