Have you given much thought recently to the bacteria which are currently residing in your mouth?
We’ve all got bacteria in our mouths. In most cases it’s harmless as long as you take good care of your oral health. However, many people remain blissfully unaware that the harmless bacteria which reside in their mouths could actually pose a serious threat to their safety and well-being.
The problem starts when certain types of these bacteria find their way into the blood stream. For most people, the bacteria won’t cause any problems, however if you suffer from certain heart conditions the bacteria has the potential to cause a serious heart infection.
One heart infection we are talking about is referred to as ‘infective endocarditis’, and it occurs when certain bacteria starts to grow on a surface of the heart. This bacteria has the potential to disrupt the normal functioning of the heart valve and can result in significant heart problems.
Prevention is the best medicine
Some dental procedures, particularly surgical procedures such as root canals or extractions, can actually provide a pathway for bacteria to make its way into the blood stream, and in rare cases, cause infective endocarditis in people who have certain heart problems. So how do we minimize the chances of an unlikely heart infection due to dental treatment?
Now first thing’s first – if you suffer from a heart condition it is important that you DO maintain a high standard of oral hygiene. Oral infections and gum disease will increase the risk of infective endocarditis.
If you suffer from a heart condition which puts you at risk of infective endocarditis, your dentist will prescribe you with an antibiotic prior to certain treatments (procedures which may introduce bacteria into the blood stream). This is referred to as “antibiotic prophylaxis”, and it reduces the potential harm of bacteria in the bloodstream.
Your dentist may recommend antibiotic prophylaxis if you have any of the following heart conditions:
2. Artificial Heart Valve
3. Artificial material used to repair the heart, a valve or aorta
4. Previous bout of infective endocarditis
5. Some types of congenital heart abnormalities and repairs to them
6. Heart transplant with subsequent valve problem
7. Valvular disease in indigenous Australians
Antibiotic Prophylaxis is no longer recommended for all patients who have a diseased heart valve, mitral valve prolapse, heart murmurs or artificial hips or knees. Your health is our priority, therefore we require regular medical updates to keep us well informed of any changes to your medical history or current medical condition.
Dental procedures which may require antibiotic prophylaxis:
2. Tooth extraction
3. Periodontal (gum) clean
4. Reimplantation or repositioning of a tooth
5. Dental implant surgery
6. Drainage of an abscess
7. Oral Surgery
If you have further questions about the Infective Endocarditis, please refer to the Therapeautic Guidelines here.
Source: Australian Dental Association