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Pre-Medicating for Dental Visits

June 6th, 2012

Some conditions require patients to take a dose of antibiotic before dental work is to be done.  This medication can be quite important to prevent serious, and even life threatening, consequences of routine care.
Some heart conditions, including severe mitral valve prolapse, valve replacement, and even a history of rheumatic fever can leave the valves of the heart prone to bacterial infection.  Dental treatment often results in bacteria from the mouth floating around in the blood stream (called bacteremia) for a short time after the appointment.  These are looking for a good place to grow, and the damaged valves can provide this place.  A dose of antibiotic, already in the bloodstream, will prevent this from happening.  Note that some of these conditions, if they are mild, are no longer indications for pre-medication according to the American Heart Association guidelines.
Blood that flows unevenly or that stagnates in the heart, such as with a murmur or atrial fibrillation,  can allow bacterial infection of the lining of the heart.  This can lead to life threatening bacterial endocarditis.  Once again, the antibiotic already in the system will prevent this occurrence.
More recently placed artificial joints can likewise be targets for bacterial infection and should be protected with a pre-appointment dose of antibiotic.  Other conditions may also require pre-medicating for dental care.
Speak to your medical doctor and always give a complete and accurate medical history to your dental office so that you can receive appropriate medications.  This could save your life.

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