This section is dedicated to the latest information on oral health topics, culled from authoritative sources such as the American Dental Association.
Click here for the latest news from the American Dental Association.
Poor dental hygiene can cause a host of problems outside your mouth-including your heart. Medical research has uncovered a definitive link between heart disease and certain kinds of oral infections such as periodontal disease. Some have even suggested that gum disease may be as dangerous as or more dangerous than other factors such as tobacco use. A condition called chronic periodontitis, or persistent gum disease, has been linked to cardiovascular problems by medical researchers.
In short, infections and harmful bacteria in your mouth can spread through the bloodstream to your liver, which produces harmful proteins that can lead to systemic cardiac problems. That's why it is critical to practice good oral hygiene to keep infections at bay-this includes a daily regimen of brushing, flossing and rinsing.
In some cases, patients with compromised immune systems or who fear an infection from a dental procedure may take antibiotics before visiting the dentist.
It is possible for bacteria from your mouth to enter your bloodstream during a dental procedure in which tissues are cut or bleeding occurs. A healthy immune system will normally fight such bacteria before they result in an infection. However, certain cardiovascular conditions in patients with weakened hearts could be at risk for an infection or heart muscle inflammation (bacterial endocarditis) resulting from a dental procedure.
Patients with heart conditions (including weakened heart valves) are strongly advised to inform our office before undergoing any dental procedure. The proper antibiotic will prevent any unnecessary complications.
Dentistry Health Care That Works: Tobacco
The American Dental Association has long been a leader in the battle against tobacco-related disease, working to educate the public about the dangers inherent in tobacco use and encouraging dentists to help their patients break the cycle of addiction. The Association has continually strengthened and updated its tobacco policies as new scientific information has become available.
Smoking and Implants
Recent studies have shown that there is a direct link between oral tissue and bones loss and smoking. Tooth loss and edentulism are more common in smokers than in non-smokers. In addition, people who smoke are more likely to develop severe periodontal disease.
The formation of deep mucosal pockets with inflammation of the peri-implant mucosa around dental implants is called peri-implantitis. Smokers treated with dental implants have a greater risk of developing peri-implantitis. This condition can lead to increased resorption of peri-implant bone. If left untreated, peri-implantitis can lead to implant failure. In a recent international study, smokers showed a higher score in bleeding index with greater peri-implant pocket depth and radiographically discernible bone resorption around the implant, particularly in the maxilla.
Many studies have shown that smoking can lead to higher rates of dental implant failure. In general, smoking cessation usually leads to improved periodontal health and a patient’s chance for successful implant acceptance.
Antibiotics are widely prescribed to control bacterial infections. Sometimes they are given before a medical or dental procedure, to prevent a possible infection from occurring; this practice is called "antibiotic prophylaxis." In the recent past, physicians and dentists advised that people with certain medical conditions - including a number of heart problems and several types of bone or joint replacements - should always take antibiotics before many routine dental procedures. Today, their advice may be different.
A growing body of evidence now indicates that far fewer patients need to take this preventive step than was previously thought. As a result, the guidelines for prescribing antibiotic prophylaxis have recently changed - and they may do so again in the future. Why are the recommendations changing - and what do you need to know about taking antibiotics before coming to the dental office?
The Risk of Infection
We all know that bacteria - both helpful and harmful types - thrive in many parts of the body, including the mouth. Whenever circumstances make it possible for these microorganisms to enter the bloodstream, there's a slight risk that a bacterial infection may develop. This could occur in many dental procedures - and it could also occur during routine activities like chewing, brushing and flossing. In most cases, the risk is so small that the chance of a having bad reaction to antibiotics (while rare) is far greater than the chance of developing an infection; therefore, antibiotics aren't routinely used.
Some people, however, need to take extra precautions before having dental procedures. If you have been treated for some types of heart disease, or have had certain orthopedic procedures (including total joint replacement), we may advise taking antibiotics to protect against even a remote chance of infection. Recommendations are made on an individual basis, taking into account your medical history and a clinician's healthcare experience.
Guidelines for Antibiotic Premedication
Prophylactic antibiotics might be recommended before dental procedures if you have one or more of the following heart conditions:
- A heart transplant
- Artificial heart valves
- A history of infective endocarditis
- Some types of congenital heart problems - particularly if they haven't been completely repaired, or if their treatment involves prosthetic material
If you have undergone a joint replacement procedure, prophylactic antibiotics might be recommended if you also have one or more of the following risk factors:
- A systemic inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus erythematosis
- A weakened immune system resulting from HIV, cancer, radiation or chemotherapy, or another cause
- Insulin-dependent (type I) diabetes or hemophilia
- A history of previous infection in a prosthetic joint
- Undernourishment or malnourishment
There are other circumstances where taking prophylactic antibiotics would be a prudent step; there are also a number of situations where these medications might have been recommended in the past, but aren't currently required in all cases. For example, the presence of a benign heart murmur, a pacemaker or defibrillator, and certain heart diseases or congenital defects don't automatically mean that antibiotic prophylaxis will be needed.
In recent years, reports of drug-resistant bacteria and harmful side effects from some medications have increased public awareness of the consequences of overusing antibiotics. Fortunately, new scientific research is helping healthcare professionals make better, evidence-based treatment decisions on antibiotic use. If you have questions about whether you should take antibiotics before dental procedure, don't hesitate to ask.
Premedication for Dental Treatment If you have had a total joint replacement in the past, you may be advised to take antibiotics before have dental work. That's because certain preexisting health conditions may make you more susceptible to infection during a dental procedure. Find out what the risk factors are... Read Article