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Understanding the Reasons for Antibiotic Prophylaxis

Typically, antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. However, your dentist may suggest taking an antibiotic before treatment to decrease the chance of an infection. This is called antibiotic prophylaxis.

Everyone has bacteria in their mouth and during some dental treatments, bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and can cause infection in other areas of their body. In most healthy people, these bacteria are killed by their immune system.

Yet certain conditions can cause a weakened immune system, and antibiotic prophylaxis may offer those who are at risk extra protection. Some people with specific heart conditions, such as artificial heart valves, infective endocarditis, a heart transplant, or unrepaired congenital heart disease may benefit from antibiotic prophylaxis. Additionally, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or cancer can affect the ability to fight infection along with medications such as steroids and those used in chemotherapy.

Although antibiotic prophylaxis is not routinely recommended for those who have had joint replacement surgery, those who feel they may be less able to fight infection should discuss with their dentist any questions they have about it.

In fact, infections after dental treatment are uncommon and antibiotics should only be prescribed when the potential benefits outweigh any risks or possible side effects of taking them. Additionally, the incorrect or too frequent use of antibiotics can allow bacterial resistance to those medications.

Of course, the control of bacteria through good oral hygiene practices such as daily brushing and flossing can greatly assist in the reduction of risk from infection.

If you are interested in finding out more about whether antibiotic prophylaxis may be appropriate for your dental visit, Dr. Heidi Finkelstein at My Plantation Dentist can help. To schedule your appointment for an examination, please contact us today at 954-584-1030.


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