Are Antibiotics Recommended Before Dental Treatments?

Prophylactic antibiotics are quite common before procedures, but they aren’t always necessary or even recommended, especially before dental treatments. Here is everything you should know about receiving antibiotics before dental treatment.

Why do antibiotics help?

During dental procedures, the mouth and gums can bleed. This blood and bacteria are ingested by the patient and travel throughout the body. The bacteria attaches itself to weak areas, leading to infections of both the procedure site and other vulnerable areas of the body. Taking the antibiotics before a procedure or at least two hours post-treatment can prevent any infection from taking hold due to the dental treatment.

Antibiotics used to be recommended for everyone, especially those who had prosthetic joint implants, but this is no longer the case. They are also no longer recommended for heart valve diseases, heart murmurs, rheumatic heart disease, calcified aortic stenosis and many other heart diseases.

What about harm?

Taking prophylactic antibiotics can actually lead to more harm than good. Unnecessary antibiotic usage can increase the risk for an unsuspecting allergic reaction to antibiotics. Allergic reactions can range from sensitivity to a fatal anaphylactic reaction. These risks often outweigh the usage of antibiotics.

Unnecessary antibiotic usage can also lead to something even more harmful: Antibiotic resistance. Bacteria are able to become resistant to medications over this misusage. This makes infections more and more difficult to properly treat. Over time, antibiotics could make bacteria completely resistant to the medication. This will produce infections without any sort of treatment.

Who are antibiotics recommended for?

There are some patients that antibiotics are recommended for before dental treatments. This includes people with certain cardiac issues such as the following:

  • Infective endocarditis or a history of infective endocarditis
  • Those with a high risk of developing a fatal case of infective endocarditis or other cardiac conditions
  • Prosthetic cardiac valves, including transcatheter-implanted prostheses and homografts
  • Prosthetic material used for cardiac valve repairs, such as annuloplasty rings and chords
  • Cyanotic congenital heart disease or repaired congenital heart disease, with residual shunts or valvular regurgitation at the site of or adjacent to the site of a prosthetic patch or prosthetic device
  • Cardiac transplantees with certain symptoms due to a structurally abnormal valve

What treatments may also need antibiotics

Antibiotics are specifically recommended if the treatments or procedures involve the gums, the areas around the root of the teeth or if the oral mucosa (the mucous membrane lining the mouth) will be torn in any way. Previous history use of antibiotics, including types and length of time being taken, is an important piece of knowledge the dentist must know before any antibiotics are given.


Antibiotics are no longer necessary or recommended unless certain requirements are met. It is important to discuss with your dentist your medical history and options before any antibiotic is administered prior to dental treatments. The risks may not outweigh the prophylactic preventive measures of the antibiotics but will need to be discussed and analyzed as a case by case basis.

Call us at (530) 885-5696 for more information from Pier 210 Dental Group or to schedule a consultation in our office in Auburn.

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