Antibiotics Before Dental Work: Who Benefits And When?

Antibiotic use before dental work, also known as prophylactic antibiotics, is something your dentist likely brought up if you fall into either of the at-risk groups. While prophylactic measures may seem like overkill, there are very good reasons for their use. Below is an overview of who benefits from this practice, what the benefits are, and when to expect antibiotics to be used.

Who Benefits from Prophylactic Antibiotic Use?

There are two groups of patients who benefit from the use of antibiotics before dental procedures. These groups are those with a heart condition that may put them at risk of a heart infection and patients who have an artificial joint, such as a knee or hip.

The goal of antibiotic use prior to a dental procedure is to reduce the risk of infection, whether that infection would occur in the heart or in the area surrounding the artificial joint. Since overuse of antibiotics is always a worry, it's important to discuss your particular heart condition with your dentist as not all of them will require prophylaxis. The same goes for patients with an artificial joint, as some patients, such as those with a total joint replacement, will be more at risk than other patients, such as those with a partial joint replacement. To determine whether prophylactic use will benefit you, your dentist will run down a list of guidelines to determine whether you quality.

What are the Benefits of Prophylactic Antibiotic Use?

As with any medical procedure, there's always a risk of infection. For patients such as the ones listed above, however, the odds of infection are more likely and can have more severe consequences.

Patients with certain heart conditions as well as patients who've received total joint replacements or who've experienced joint infections at the site of an artificial joint in the past can benefit greatly from premedication. The obvious benefit of premedication involves removal of the risk of infection, which is important for at-risk patients. While infections won't occur in all at-risk patients following a dental procedure, the risk is certainly there and worth being avoided.

What Procedures Will Antibiotics Be Prescribed For?

Infections can arise from a number of dental procedures, and procedures that seem harmless can present a risk.

Your dentist may prescribe prophylactic antibiotics if you'll be undergoing any dental work that involves manipulation of the soft tissues, such as the gums, removal of teeth, or placement of dental implants. Essentially, whenever bleeding is anticipated, prophylactic measures will be followed to ensure your health and safety.

To learn more about prophylactic antibiotic use and whether you qualify, consult with your dentist prior to any dental work.