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Are antibiotics safe for people with heart problems before dental work?

Prophylactic antibiotics have routinely been prescribed for people undergoing dental work who also had existing heart problems because it had been accepted that there is a link between dental bacteremia (the presence of bacteria in the blood) and endocarditis (an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart). Individuals with pre-existing heart problems tend to have a higher incidence of endocarditis. However, the American Heart Association and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in the UK have withdrawn support for this practice of prophylactic antibiotics because the danger from overuse of antibiotics outweighs any other potential risks. Regular tooth brushing, flossing and even chewing gum are now recognized to dislodge as much, if not more, bacteremia than most dental procedures.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.