It’s a subject that isn’t discussed very often but should be of utmost importance for some patients who require dental treatment. What’s the topic? It’s what to consider when it comes to either prescribing antibiotics or dealing with a patient currently on antibiotics. We’ve looked at the impact of other types of medications in the past such as those used for treating cancer or chronic gastric diseases but today we look at antibiotic use.
As with any condition, first and foremost it is VERY important you share with your Dentist whether you are taking any medications, including antibiotics. The CDA describes the overuse of antibiotics as “a serious and growing global threat” potentially leading to the “threat of antibiotic resistance and the emergence of superbugs and incurable infections.” (1) For that reason, it is more important than ever that we understand the role Dentists play in prescribing antibiotics and the role antibiotic drugs themselves play in your treatment and recovery plan, whether from dental procedures or another medical issue.
A recent survey by the CDA found that Dentists prescribe antibiotics under some fairly typical conditions such as:
- For patients who have had total joint replacements.
- For patients who are at risk for infectious endocarditis.
- For patients who develop signs of a spreading infection and/or patients who are at a higher risk (due to an underlying medical condition) of developing an infection.
Dentists are influenced, in part, in their choice of treatment options, by the patients treating family doctor or specialist. Your Dentist should work in conjunction with those individuals when determining appropriate care for you or your family member. Judicious use of antibiotics for some dental procedures is entirely necessary but it remains important that patients share all available information with their Dentist in order to ensure an appropriate level of prescription care is provided. Your Dentist will not want to risk the overuse of antibiotics or cause potential harm by prescribing a contraindicated antibiotic treatment. For this reason too – it’s imperative your Dentist is also fully aware of any allergies you may have, even if you believe them to be unrelated to your oral health care. In other words, the more knowledge your Dentist has, the better the potential outcome of any treatment you receive!
When it comes to antibiotic use, many patients tell us they do not want to be prescribed antibiotics and/or they avoid them whenever possible. Given the concerns expressed by the CDA (and many others) it can be good news to hear that patients don’t want an antibiotic prescribed. However, it’s always important to remember that there are some occasions when drugs are necessary, as either a preventative measure or as an aid to healing. As long as you, your family Doctor and your family Dentist are all working together toward your optimal health, everyone should have reason to smile. On that note, we’ll end as we always do with this friendly reminder, “don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and Brush that SMILE!”