April 23, 2007

Dental Procedures and Antibiotics

Most dental patients with heart disease do not need antibiotics before dental procedures to prevent infective endocarditis, new U.S. guidelines say.

Revised guidelines from the American Heart Association with input from the American Dental Association, published in the journal Circulation and Journal of the American Dental Association, says antibiotics are now only recommended for patients at greatest risk of negative outcomes from infective endocarditis -- which can be fatal.

Those include: those with artificial heart valves or certain congenital heart conditions, heart transplant recipients who develop cardiac valve problems, recipients of an artificial patch to repair a congenital heart defect within the past six months and patients with a history of infective endocarditis.

The new guidelines are based on a growing body of scientific evidence that shows the risks of taking preventive antibiotics outweigh the benefits for most patients. The risks include adverse reactions to antibiotics that range from mild to potentially severe and, in rare cases, death, according to the guidelines.