We all have bacteria in our mouths. Because a number of dental procedures, including daily brushing, flossing, and even chewing gum can stir up bacteria, causing it to enter the bloodstream, the American Dental Association has previously recommended that certain patients take an antibiotic prophylaxis prior to their dental visits. Also known as “premedication,” dentists and orthopedic surgeons were issued a guideline suggesting that they discontinue the practice of prescribing prophylaxis medications. This was in 2012. Thus, while antibiotic prophylaxis is not necessary for joint replacement patients, it might still help others. Even so, it’s important to consider the side effects associated with prophylaxis medication to determine if the benefits truly outweigh the risks.
Antibiotic Prophylaxis: The Risks
Side effects and potential risks related to premedication antibiotics may include:
- Nausea, Upset Stomach
- Allergic Reactions
- Anaphylactic Shock
- Building of Antibiotic Resistance
- Difficile Infection
While the above-mentioned risks are concerning, the use of prophylaxis antibiotics can prove helpful for patients with compromised immune systems. This includes patients with cancer or those undergoing chemotherapy. Premedication may also benefit those with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, those with a history of steroid use, and those with heart conditions.
When patients with weakened immune systems receive a routine teeth cleaning, tooth extraction, root canal, or scaling, loose bacteria may travel to another area of the body and develop into an infection. Without question, this could be dangerous for patients with an already compromised system. On the other hand, those with healthy immune systems are generally able to prevent the damage caused by harmful bacteria.
While research is ongoing, Mouth Healthy cites the American Dental Association when it claims that antibiotics given prior to dental procedures do not prevent such infections.
Though research may appear contradictory, when it comes to your oral health and the dental care you’re receiving, perhaps the best rule of thumb is to consult your dentist before accepting or declining the use of antibiotic prophylaxis. After all, the benefits of premedication are measured on a case-by-case basis.
With a reputation for excellence, Dr. Leia Porcaro at Grateful Dental offers a complete menu of comprehensive dentistry, with a focus on preventative aspects of oral care. Dr. Porcaro enjoys getting to know her patients, and devotes ample time to ensure that they get the information they need to make informed decisions about their dental health.
Has it been some time since you’ve visited a dentist? The team of experts at Grateful Dental in Marietta welcomes your call today!