Dental medicine is always improving in hopes of continuing to provide our patients with the best care possible. Most of the time this involves new innovations, but positive changes can also come from reviewing old ways of thinking and seeing if they still have a place in modern medicine. One such idea that has undergone review in the past decade is the need to take certain antibiotics before a dental procedure if you’ve had joint replacement surgery in the past.
Not too long ago, patients who had joint replacement operations were told that they needed to take antibiotic prophylaxis prior to their dental operation. Antibiotic prophylaxis, sometimes referred to as premedication, is an antibiotic taken before a dental procedure to help prevent against the risk of an infection. Dental procedures like tooth extractions, root canals, and deep cleanings can increase the risk of bacteria entering the bloodstream. Sometimes this bacteria can cause infections in other areas of the body, and the understanding in the medical community was that this risk may be elevated in individuals who have had joint replacements.
Although this was the common belief, there was very little scientific evidence to back up this claim. Antibiotic prophylaxis could help to prevent infections, but there was no hard evidence that patients with artificial joints were at an increased risk than the normal population, and this risk can be greatly controlled by a skilled dentist and a thorough aftercare plan.
Things officially changed in 2012 when the American Dental Association and the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons published updated care guidelines that said dentists “might consider discontinuing the practice of routinely prescribing prophylactic antibiotics,” and the ADA’s Council of Scientific Affairs echoed these same guidelines in 2015 when discussing caring for patients with joint implants.
While antibiotic prophylaxis are no longer the standard, it’s important that you still let your dentist know that you have had a joint replacement operation if you are undergoing dental surgery, because in some cases, medications may still be considered. If you have a compromised immune system, or if you have conditions like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, be sure to let your doctor know, because premedications may be in your best interest.
It’s also a good idea to let your dentist know of any medications you might be taking, as these can put you at elevated risk for complications or they may interfere with any medications prescribed after your procedure.
For more information on antibiotic prophylaxis, or to set up your next appointment with Dr. Brooks, reach out to his office today.