You may have heard that heart patients should take antibiotics before they visit the dentist. Certain procedures, such as routine dental cleaning, root canal or tooth extraction, may allow bacteria from the mouth to enter the bloodstream. Rarely, these bacteria can infect the heart valves and lining of the heart, causing them to become inflamed. This inflammation is called infective endocarditis (IE). IE has the potential to cause catastrophic medical problems, including heart failure and leakage of the heart valves.
The American Heart Association recommends that people with certain heart problems take a short-term course of antibiotics before visiting the dentist. The goal is to reduce the risk for IE, an infection of the heart’s lining or valves. Continue reading