Essentially, we have bacteria in our mouths that certain procedures might allow or facilitate that bacterium to enter the bloodstream. For most of us, this isn’t an issue. A healthy immune system prevents these bacteria from causing any harm. Yet, for some people bacteremia can cause an infection elsewhere in the body.
Antibiotics are recommended to be taken in advance of treatment for a small number of people who have specific heart conditions.
According to the American Heart Association guidelines, antibiotic prophylaxis should be considered for people with:
- Artificial heart valves.
- A history of an infection of the lining of the heart or heart valves known as infective endocarditis.
- A heart transplant in which a problem develops with one of the valves inside the heart.
- Heart conditions that are present from birth, such as:
- Unrepaired cyanotic congenital heart disease, including people with palliative shunts and conduit.
- Defects repaired with a prosthetic material or device—whether placed by surgery or catheter intervention—during the first six months after repair.
- Cases in which a heart defect has been repaired, but a residual defect remains at the site or adjacent to the site of the prosthetic patch or prosthetic device used for the repair.
Antibiotic guidelines have also been developed for people who have orthopedic implants. In 2012, the ADA and American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons updated the recommendations and no longer recommend antibiotics for everyone with artificial joints. As such, your provider may rely more on your personal medical history to determine whether or not antibiotics are appropriate for people with orthopedic implants.
In addition, antibiotic premedication might be appropriate for patients who have compromised immune systems due to diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, chemotherapy, and chronic steroid use, all of which increase the risk of infection. If you have a heart condition, a compromised immune system or an orthopedic implant, talk with your dentist or physician about whether antibiotic pre-treatment is right for you. If we can be of assistance, feel free to contact us.
Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC
290 Carpenter Drive, 200A
Atlanta, GA 30328
 The American Heart Association has guidelines identifying people who should take antibiotics prior to dental care.
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