Healthy Heart

Do Heart Disease Patients Need Antibiotics Before Dental Care?

For some heart disease patients, antibiotics are essential to take before any dental care, even regular preventative cleanings. These individuals may include those who have had rheumatic fever, heart murmur, heart valve replacement, or orthopedic joint replacement. Often, these patients are at an elevated risk for developing the condition called infectious endocarditis. So, the American Dental Association recommends they take a “pre-med” before undergoing dental work.

Here’s why: During even the most routine dental procedures, bacteria that usually inhabit the mouth can make it into the bloodstream. When that happens (and bacteria travels to the heart) it may further aggravate the existing heart disease or underlying condition. Instead of allowing this to occur, we use a pre-medication to destroy the bacteria.

In response to new findings in the treatment of heart disease, the American Heart Association regularly revises prescription recommendations. Sometimes, the dosages prescribed by your doctor will vary compared to earlier guidelines. These changes are typical, but you should always feel free to voice your concerns with your medical doctor. They should be able to address any concerns and answer any questions you may have.

If your doctor mentions anything about your heart at an exam, make sure to ask the vital questions. Start with, “Does my condition require me to take antibiotics before dental work?” If the answer is yes, please let us know in advance of your next dental appointment. That way, we won’t have to delay needed treatment.

Take it to Heart: We want to prevent the risk of your exposure to infectious bacterial endocarditis, an infection of the heart muscle or heart lining.