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What is Antibiotic Prophylaxis

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Nine Syllables Worth Noting

Remember the kids’ activity where one tries to pronounce a word with a chewed cracker in their mouth? Or the game of Scrabble, where long words rack up a lot of points? The dental word stumper in this activity is “antibiotic prophylaxis”.

We ask patients to fill out or update their medical history, so we can discover any medicine that may have an impact on the oral tissues. We are also identifying people with compromised immune systems, who may require premedication for dental treatment, which we call antibiotic prophylaxis. If a patient indicates specific health conditions, they may require premedication before dental procedures, too. Anyone with cancer, or related chemotherapy, may fall into this category. It is also true for people who routinely take steroids. Ask your physician if you aren’t sure and then remember to start your prescription at least an hour before treatment.

Bacteria That Cause Hidden Problems

Premedication destroys the specific types of oral bacteria that cause “hidden” problems.  Bacteria don’t cross into the bloodstream unless given an entry point. Sometimes it can be from a tartar-removing instrument, clamp, metal band used to shape a filling or minor surgery. If an antibiotic is already in your system because you followed the directions for dosing, the bacteria will be destroyed.

Another precaution, prior to treatment, is whether one takes “blood thinner” medicine.  This topic is one for your physician, so check with them if you have an upcoming dental visit. When you are unable to take a short break from blood thinners, we sometimes take extra steps to maintain good visibility during dental procedures, or we break a treatment sequence into smaller sections.

Not only do we follow the “antibiotic prophylaxis” guideline, we also remain up-to-date on new medications in the marketplace and patient safety through Continuing Education courses. Sometimes, drug research uncovers a side-effect that is relevant to our treatment or future care plan, which keeps us on top of our game.