Drug resistance is a growing concern among care providers and their patients. While a simple prescription antibiotic can eliminate initial infections, they may not always completely eradicate the cause of the problem, wasting the entire course of medication if nothing else is done following their completion of the prescription. Dental patients are no different.
Dentists typically prescribe antibiotics for very severe dental infections prior to restorative or therapeutic procedures. By clearing up initial infections, your body can respond better to therapies, and your dentist can better access areas of disease. Inflamed tissues aren’t only more difficult to treat, they’re also difficult to anesthetize, making you more uncomfortable.
Your dentist may decide to write you a prescription for antibiotics if you have a severe abscess or chronic form of periodontal disease where excess swelling and pus is evident. The medication should be taken until the course is fully finished, even if your symptoms go away sooner. This prevents drug resistance and recurrent infections that may be hard to treat. Combined with antibiotics, you should also schedule treatment in a timely manner. This allows the dentist to remove and correct the cause of infection such as decay, tartar or plaque. Otherwise the bacteria just gain more strength and the symptoms return.
The American Heart Association used to recommend antibiotic prophylaxis for dental patients that have had joint replacements or certain major surgeries and conditions such as mitral valve prolapse. Guidelines have recently changed, and premedication with antibiotics is typically no longer needed for routine dental procedures. Always be sure to review your entire health history with your dental office at each visit to make sure any necessary precautions are taken.
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