- Good oral hygiene and regular dental care are the most important ways to reduce risk of a heart infection called infective endocarditis caused by bacteria in the mouth.
- There are four categories of heart patients considered to be at highest risk for adverse outcomes from infective endocarditis, and only these patients are recommended to receive preventive antibiotic treatment prior to invasive dental procedures.
- American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines issued in 2007 suggested not to use antibiotics before certain dental procedures. These recommendations resulted in a decrease in antibiotic use.
Maintenance of good oral health is more important than use of antibiotics in dental procedures for some heart patients to prevent a heart infection caused by bacteria around the teeth, according to a new American Heart Association (AHA) scientific statement published today in the association’s flagship journal, Circulation.
Infective endocarditis (IE), also called bacterial endocarditis, is a heart infection caused by bacteria that enter the bloodstream and settle in the heart lining, a heart valve or a blood vessel. It is uncommon, but people with heart valve disease or previous valve surgery, congenital heart disease or recurrent infective endocarditis have a greater risk of complications if they develop IE. Intravenous drug use also increases risk for IE. Viridans group streptococcal infective endocarditis (VGS IE) is caused by bacteria that collect in plaque on the tooth surface and cause inflammation and swelling of the gums. There’s been concern that certain dental procedures may increase the risk of developing VGS IE in vulnerable patients.
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