Do I need to take antibiotics before my dental procedure?

Taking precautionary antibiotics before your dental procedure is no longer recommended and in fact may be more harmful than helpful, according to the American Heart Association.

 

THE NEW GUIDELINES

 

The updated guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) say that many patients who have taken precautionary antibiotics prior to dental procedures may no longer need them. The AHA now recommends that only people who are at the greatest risk of bad outcomes from infective endocarditis (IE) should receive short-term preventive antibiotics before routine dental procedures. IE is an infection of the heart’s inner lining or the heart valves, which results when bacteria enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart.

 

RISKS VS BENEFITS

 

The new guidelines are based on the most current evidence that illustrates that the risk of taking preventative antibiotics is greater the benefits to the patient. These risks include adverse reactions to antibiotics and the development of drug-resistant bacteria.

 

The overuse of antibiotics has caused a huge increase in the number of bacteria that are now resistant to them. When this happens, new antibiotics must be created to treat these drug resistant bacteria. The overuse of antibiotics has caused a huge increase in the number of bacteria that are now resistant to them. When this happens, new antibiotics must be created to treat these drug resistant bacteria.

 

The guidelines emphasize that maintaining good oral health and practicing daily oral hygiene are more important in reducing the risk of IE than taking preventive antibiotics before a dental visit.

 

SOME PATIENTS STILL NEED PREVENTATIVE ANTIBIOTICS

 

There are, however, some patients who should take preventative antibiotics when undergoing dental procedures. These include those who have a high risk of developing a cardiac infection.

Patients need to ask their primary care doctor or cardiologist whether or not to pre-medicate with antibiotics prior to dental work. They should be aware that antibiotics may lead to a worse outcome than if none are used.