Has a dentist ever suggested you take prophylactic antibiotics prior to having a dental procedure such as a root canal or a tooth extraction? Have you ever wondered whether this precaution is really necessary? Well, for some people, this step can be life saving.
Your mouth is full of bacteria, both good and bad, and the simple action of brushing, flossing and even chewing, can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Our immune systems typically help keep bacteria from causing illness, but some people are at a higher risk for infection. This increased risk is the reason many dentists recommend the use of a prophylactic antibiotic premedication prior to a major dental procedure as it helps prevent the bacteria in your mouth from spreading to other parts of your body. In certain cases, these bacteria can infect your heart valves and the lining of your heart causing inflammation known as infective endocarditis. Unfortunately, for some, this has the potential to cause severe medical issues to include leaky heart valves and heart failure.
What is infective endocarditis?
Infective endocarditis is an infection of the lining of the heart chambers or valves. When the bacteria circulate in the bloodstream they can stick to the heart valves or lining, especially on the surface of an abnormality or irregularity. While people who have had previous heart surgery or have abnormal heart valves are most susceptible, it can also affect people who otherwise have a clean bill of health. Once attached, the bacteria can grow on the valve surface forming a small mass on the lining or valves, causing additional damage.
How do prophylactic antibiotics work?
When taken prior to a major dental procedure, antibiotics can help prevent bacteria from being released into the bloodstream and avert serious health issues. They are prescribed in the hopes they will kill the pathogen in the bloodstream before they adhere to the heart valve, prevent bacteria from adhering to the thrombus forming on the valve and eliminate organisms that may attach to the thrombus.
Am I at risk for infective endocarditis?
Over the years, the American Heart Association has recommended most patients with a heart murmur receive antibiotics before nearly any dental procedure, including minor ones. Over time, however, these guidelines have changed substantially as new medical information has been made available. A review of studies performed between 1950 and 2006 has indicated there was no real benefit of using preventive antibiotics except with the highest risk patients. These patients include those who have a prior history of infective endocarditis, heart transplant with abnormal valve function, congenital heart abnormalities, a valve repair with prosthetic material or a prosthetic heart valve.
Please contact Cambridge Family Dentistry for a free consultation, especially if you have any questions or concerns whether you need to take a prophylactic antibiotic to help prevent infective endocarditis.
Please contact us by calling:
(316) 687-2110 or toll-free (877) 687-2110.
We look forward to meeting you.
The Cambridge Family Dentistry clinic is located at 2020 N. Webb Road in Wichita, Kansas
“Cambridge Family Dentistry – providing world class dental implants for more than 40 years”