The use of antibiotics before dental treatment for specific patients as recommended by dentists or physicians is called antibiotic prophylaxis.

Many dental procedures, and even daily activities like brushing and flossing, can allow the bacteria present in the mouth to enter the bloodstream. For most healthy patients, this bacteremia is not problematic since the immune system prevents these bacteremias from causing any harm. However, for certain people, there is a concern that this bacteria could cause a dangerous infection elsewhere in the body.

Then again a question arises why do healthcare providers suggest this extra step??!!

Who Might Benefit from Antibiotic Prophylaxis?

Antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended for a small number of people who have specific heart conditions. The American Heart Association has guidelines identifying people who should take antibiotics prior to dental care. According to these 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, an uncommon but life-threatening infection.
  • 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 congenital heart disease, including people with palliative shunts. Defects repaired with 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.

Talk to your dentist about these guidelinesif you have any questions about antibiotic prophylaxis.