New research and recommendations from the American Dental Association (ADA) should be a relief to patients with prosthetic joint implants – they may no longer need to make a trip to the pharmacy for antibiotics before undergoing dental procedures.

Why were antibiotics suggested?

Even up until 2012, many dental patients used antibiotic prophylaxis before dental work. Antibiotic prophylaxis (or premedication) is simply the use of antibiotics before some dental procedures such as teeth cleaning, tooth extractions, root canals, and deep cleaning between the tooth root and gums to prevent infection. We all carry bacteria in our mouths, and a number of dental treatments – and even our daily routines like chewing, brushing or flossing – can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream. For most of us, this isn’t a problem. A healthy immune system prevents these bacteria from causing any harm. There is a concern, however, that bacteria in the bloodstream could cause infection elsewhere in the body.

What has changed?

Even though there was little evidence to support the practice, many dental patients with prosthetic joints premedicated to avoid bacterial infections. But in 2012 the ADA and American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons updated their guidelines, stating that dentists “might consider discontinuing the practice of routinely prescribing prophylactic antibiotics.” In 2014, a panel judged with moderate certainty that there was no connection between dental procedures and prosthetic joint infections. And finally, in 2015, the ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs issued another guideline, which continued to discourage prophylactic antibiotic use for most patients with prosthetic joint implants.

Why is this important to me?

This is great news for patients with prosthetic joint implants. At Beautiful Smiles Family Dental Center, we want every patient to feel comfortable and informed – and these guidelines should give our patients the peace of mind to have dental work performed without the fear of infection or complications.

What if I’m still concerned?

It’s worth noting that patients with a compromised immune system, or those with a history of complications stemming from joint replacement surgery, may still be candidates for antibiotic prophylaxis. Patients should reach out to their surgeon to find out if prophylactic antibiotics are recommended – if so, the surgeon can write out a prescription for the antibiotic. Please share this information with us if you feel it is relevant to your dental care and our team of doctors and staff will ensure that your unique needs are met.

We hope that this new information eases the anxiety that some of our patients with prosthetic joints might be holding on to – give us a call today to schedule an appointment and get the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted!

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At Beautiful Smiles Family Dental Center in Etters, Pennsylvania, Dr. Graver and Dr. Koop offer many techniques to keep your smile beautiful! We are always concerned about your comfort. Please contact us if you have any questions about how our services may benefit you or someone you know.