According to the ADA and the American Heart Association (AHA), patients with certain heart conditions do not need to take antibiotics before getting dental treatments as once required. The new guidelines are based on scientific research that revealed that the risk of taking the antibiotics may be greater than the risk of not taking them for heart patients.They recommend the use of antibiotics only for the patients at highest risk. For these patients, the AHA and the ADA recommend that the antibiotics should be taken just before the dental visit.
Prior to the new guidelines, patients were required to take antibiotics before going to the dentist for cleaning or other treatments. Persons with such conditions as rheumatic heart disease, calcified aortic stenosis and mitral valve prolapse, bicuspid valve disease, and those patients with certain congenital heart conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, will no longer have to take the antibiotics. Patients with artificial heart valves, heart transplant patients who develop cardiac valve problems, those with certain congenital heart diseases, and recipients of an artificial patch to repair a congenital defect within the past 6 months will still be required to take antibiotics before going to the dentist. For a complete list, visit www.ada.org.
The reason for using antibiotics before a dental visit is the belief that the antibiotics would prevent an infection called endocarditis (IE), an infection of the heart’s inner lining. The infection occurs when bacteria that is normally found in the mouth or on the skin enters the bloodstream and goes to the heart, according to the ADA.The new guidelines are based on the lack of scientific evidence that antibiotics are preventing IE. In addition, the risk of using antibiotics include mild to severe adverse reactions to it. According to the ADA, maintaining good oral health and practicing daily oral hygiene reduce the risk of IE more than taking antibiotics before a dental visit.