Antibiotics are sometimes used before dental visits to prevent infections. These infections are caused when germs from the mouth get into the blood and travel to the heart or an artificial joint. Taking antibiotics may only help prevent heart or joint infections in a small number of people; because of this, many people no longer need to take antibiotics before visiting their dentists. If you do need an antibiotic, you will usually take just one dose 30 minutes to one hour before your dental visit.
You need to take an antibiotic before dental visits if you have:
- an artificial heart valve
- a history of heart infections
- certain serious heart conditions that you have had since birth
- a heart transplant with a heart valve problem
You do not need to take an antibiotic before dental visits if you have:
- mitral valve prolapse
- rheumatic heart disease
- bicuspid valve disease
- calcified aortic stenosis
- certain heart conditions that you have had since birth, like ventricular septal defect,
- atrial septal defect, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Most people with artificial joints do not need to take an antibiotic before seeing the dentist. You should talk to your prescriber about taking antibiotics before seeing the dentist. If you have an implant (breast, pacemaker, etc), there is no proof that taking an antibiotic before visiting the dentist will prevent an infection of your implant; however, your prescriber may want you to have antibiotics if you are at high risk for an infection.
The best thing to do to prevent heart and joint infections is to take care of your teeth and gums. It is important to brush, floss, and get regular dental check-ups. People who don’t take good care of their teeth and gums have more germs in their mouth, and these germs might cause heart or joint infections if you are at risk.
Content taken from Pharmacist’s Letter.