16 Oct ADA Adjusts Recommendation on Antibiotic Prophylaxis
For many years, if you had a joint replacement and were planning to see a dentist, most doctors would recommend taking a dose of antibiotics before your appointment. But recently, the American Dental Association has changed its guidelines on “antibiotic prophylaxis”.
Until 2012, it had been thought that dental work could be dangerous for those with artificial joints. The mouth is full of different kinds of bacteria, and the poking and prodding of dental procedures (or even flossing) can potentially introduce some of this bacteria into the bloodstream. Most humans’ immune systems can fight off this bacteria without issue. The fear, then, was that bacteria could build up in an artificial joint, causing a biofilm which could ruin the joint replacement, causing the need for another surgery.
The solution was to have the person pick up a dose of antibiotics before their dental appointment. Every. Time.
But after years of reviewing the scientific literature on the subject, and careful study of trends among patients, the American Dental Association has officially changed their guidelines on antibiotic prophylaxis. A cross-examination of multiple sources have shown no connection between dental work and artificial joint infections.
It turns out that the risks outweigh the benefits of regularly taking antibiotics. While it might help prevent an infection (there’s not much evidence of this), taking too too many antibiotics can lead to anaphylactic shock or drug-resistant bacteria.
There are still some instances where taking an antibiotic is still recommended before seeing a dentist. People with certain heart conditions, or compromised or weak immune systems should still discuss options with their primary physician. And as always, if you’re unsure or have any questions, ask a doctor first.
The Washington Post also outlined the arguments for and against antibiotic prophylaxis before dental procedures in an article last week. You can read it here. The ADA has also published an article intended to help guide patients in their decisions about this matter.