Effect of Periodontal Disease in Men: An Introduction

How it Impacts their overall health

The incidence of periodontal disease tends to be higher in men than in women. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, more than 50% of men have some form of periodontal disease, while it is only about 38% for women. Such difference could be due to the fact that men tend to have poorer oral hygiene and/or are less likely to pay a visit to their dentist, be it for curative or preventive treatment. Or it could also be a result of habits like smoking which causes increased plaque and calcular deposits.

Achieving and maintaining periodontal health in men is of utmost importance, as it may influence their overall health. Listed and discussed below are some of health conditions associated with periodontal disease in men.

Cardiovascular Health:

Lots of studies have proven the connection between periodontal disease and cardiovascular health. Periodontal disease may play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease, particularly of the condition called infective endocarditis. Both periodontal disease and endocarditis are chronic inflammatory conditions and it is suggested that inflammation is the connection between the two.

Since men are more prone to developing heart problems compared to women, maintaining oral health is a good way to reduce their risk.

Prostate Health:

Periodontal disease is also linked to prostate health by the increased levels of PSA, or Prostate-Specific Antigen. PSA is an enzyme normally synthesized and released in small amounts. The levels of this enzyme rise when the prostate becomes infected, inflamed, or cancerous.

According to research, men suffering from both periodontal disease and prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) tend to have higher PSA levels compared to men who have either condition alone. This suggests the possible two-way connection between periodontal disease and prostate health.

Impotence:

Studies show that men with periodontal disease, particularly those between ages 30 to 70 are more susceptible to developing impotence. The mechanism, according to researchers, is that the chronic inflammation associated with periodontal disease results to damage of blood vessels all over the body, including those that supply the genitals.

Cancer:

Men who have or have had periodontal disease are said to be 14% more likely to develop cancer that those who don’t. The types of cancer associated with this oral health problem include pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, and blood cancers. The association between periodontal disease and the risk of developing pancreatic cancer was reported by a study conducted in Harvard School of Public Health. The study involved more than 50,000 male participants aged 40 to 75 years old.

The researchers did a 16-year follow-up from 1986 and 2002, and found that more than 200 of the participants developed pancreatic cancer. Thus, they came up with a conclusion that men who have had periodontal disease have more than 60% chance of developing pancreatic cancer compared to men who have no history of this oral health problem.

Take note, though, that while there is statistical association between the two diseases, the direct cause-effect relationship between them is yet to be established.

If you are dealing with periodontal disease and it seems to be affecting your health already, don’t hesitate to consult your dentist and physician about it. These health professionals shall help your with your health maladies, especially your dentist who can help detect periodontal disease and treat it before it can have the chance to affect other areas of your body. But it is also advised that you do your part in improving your oral health by practicing good oral hygiene.

Brushing your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day, flossing, and regular professional cleaning will help minimize your risk for periodontal disease.

Periodontal Disease in Women

How it has something to do with the different phases of their life

A woman’s periodontal health is influenced by number of factors, the most important of which is the fluctuating hormone levels. The two hormones that contribute to periodontal disease in the female are the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Both of these increase blood flow to the gum tissue, causing its increased sensitivity to plaque and other offending agents.

In addition, there are also some studies which say that increased levels of estrogen and progesterone actually promote growth of disease-causing bacteria. As a result, the gums become easily swollen.

The following conditions are some of the instances where women’s hormones go out of whack, causing them to be more susceptible to periodontal disease.

 

Puberty:

During puberty there is increased level of progesterone which causes the gums to appear red and swollen. It is also likely bleed easily upon slight manipulation. This reaction of the gum tissue can easily be reversed by removing the irritant. This can be done through meticulous oral hygiene practices and regular professional cleaning by your dentist.

Nonetheless, as pubertal period comes to an end, this reaction tends to lessen or tone down. Even so, it is still important take good care of your oral health.

Menstruation:

Some women may also experience this so-called menstruation gingivitis, which appears about three to four days prior to a woman’s period and begins to clear up after her period has begun. It is characterized by bleeding, swollen gums that are bright red in color.

In some cases, the salivary glands may also become swollen, while the tongue and the inside of the cheek may develop painful sores. Some women, though, don’t experience any changes at all. But for those who experience any discomfort, your dentist may recommend cleaning, topical anesthetics, or other special treatments to provide some relief.

Pregnancy:

Pregnancy has long been suggested by numerous studies as a possible risk factor for periodontal disease, as it causes hormone levels to rise considerably. Gingivitis is present during the second month of pregnancy up to the eighth month, and it starts to wane during the ninth month.

To control the disease, your dentist may prescribe more frequent cleaning visits especially during the second trimester or early third trimester.

Sometimes, an overgrowth of tissue called “pregnancy tumor” may show up during the second trimester. It is a localized, painless, and non-cancerous swelling that usually appears between the teeth and is also believed to be caused by excessive plaque accumulation. It is characterized as having a mulberry-like mass that bleeds easily. It usually resolves on its own once the baby is born, but some women opt for surgery especially if the tumor is so big that it interferes with function.

The association between these two conditions is a two-way street as hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy may predispose to periodontal disease, while any infectious disease like periodontal disease pose a risk to the unborn baby’s health.

According to studies, periodontal disease cause pregnant women to have premature and/or low birth weight babies.

However, further studies are needed to confirm the effects of periodontal disease on adverse pregnancy outcomes. Still, experts recommend pregnant or planning-to-be pregnant women to have a periodontal evaluation especially if they notice some changes in their mouth during pregnancy.

Menopause:

Women who are in their menopausal or post-menopausal stage may experience changes like dry mouth, altered taste, burning sensation, increased sensitivity to heat and cold, pain, and other discomforts. A small percentage may also develop menopausal gingivostomatitis, which is described as dry, shiny gums that bleed easily. The color of the gums range from very pale to deep red. According to some experts, supplementation with estrogen may help relieve symptoms.

Every phase of a woman’s life brings about many changes, some of which are good while others are not-so-good. Such changes may include ones that affect your oral health.

If you start to see of feel any changes that you think may be related to any of the conditions above, talk to your dentist or periodontist. They will be happy more than happy to address any concerns you have regarding your oral health.

Factors that Contribute to Periodontal Disease

It has long been established that plaque is the most important causative factor in the development of periodontal disease. But plaque alone won’t wreak so much havoc in your mouth if it doesn’t have the following factors to aid it in doing so.

Listed below are the three major factors that contribute to one’s susceptibility to periodontal disease, as well as to its progression.

Predisposing Factors:

The contributing factors for periodontal disease are either local or systemic. Predisposing factors are local factors found in the mouth. They pertain to physical structures or mechanical habitat that promote plaque accumulation and make plaque removal more difficult. These include calcular deposits, irregularities on tooth surface, tooth malposition, erupting third molars, oral appliances, and poorly-fabricated and faulty restorations. Learn more about these factors in this separate article.

Risk Factors:

Risk factors and modifying factors, on the other hand, are systemic factors. A systemic factor is something that can either be a medical problem or a behavioral condition. The difference between a risk factor and a modifying factor is that the former is something that increases susceptibility to disease; meaning, the disease isn’t there yet but the risk factor increases your chances of developing such. Risk factors include diabetes mellitus, alcoholism, and tobacco use.

Tobacco use has been associated with a myriad of health problems including heart disease, lung problems, and even cancer. According to studies, it can also increase one’s risk for periodontal disease. In fact, it is found to be among the most important factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease. For more details about other risk factors, check out this other post.

Modifying Factors:

To reiterate, modifying factors are also systemic factors like risk factors. However, this factor does not work to increases one’s chances of developing periodontal disease. Rather, the disease has already occurred and the modifying factor alters the progression of the disease by modifying the body’s response to the disease itself or to the treatment. Their effect is mainly on the body’s immune response.

Modifying factors tend to exaggerate immune response to the disease-causing bacteria, at the same time making the body more resistant to the treatment being rendered. A modifying factor can also be a risk factor and vice-versa. The best examples of such are diabetes and tobacco use.

Individuals with diabetes are more likely to develop gum disease because of their compromised immune system, which makes them susceptible to infections in general.

Periodontal disease is actually considered as one of the many complications of diabetes. In addition to increasing susceptibility, diabetes also promotes disease progression through poor blood circulation and tissue healing. The relationship between diabetes and periodontal is a two-way street, and more can be learned about such in this article.

Fortunately, the factors that cause and influence the progression of periodontal disease can be controlled. If there are multiple factors in one individual, then getting rid of even just one can dramatically reduce the chances of periodontal disease from developing or progressing.

And while it is your dentist’s job to identify these factors and manage them, you as a patient also have a role in ensuring that you’re taking good care of your oral health because it is also very important in counteracting the effects of the contributing factors discussed above

Self-Performed Methods of Dental Plaque Identification

Plaque pertains to the slimy, sticky substance that collects on the surface of the teeth. It is the major cause of both tooth decay and gum disease, thus making it extremely important to get rid of plaque deposits before they can wreak havoc on your mouth.

But the thing is, plaque can be pretty hard to detect with the naked eye, because it has the same color as your teeth. But worry not, for there are tools for dental plaque identification, which can help detect where plaque builds up and let you know how good you when it comes brushing and flossing your pearly whites.

Why Remove Plaque?

Plaque disclosing agents are often used by dentists to show their patients where and how much plaque has accumulated on their teeth.

Removing plaque deposits while they are still new and soft is recommended in order to prevent them from turning into hardened deposits called tartar or calculus, where plaque and bacteria can continue to thrive.

Tartar cannot be removed by simple brushing and flossing, but only through professional cleaning by your dentist or dental hygienist.

Methods of Plaque Disclosure:

Plaque Disclosing Tablets:

One method of plaque disclosure makes use of special disclosing tablets made up of red dye. This dye gets absorbed by plaque, thus staining it and making it much easier to detect. To use these tablets, get one tablet and chew it thoroughly. Swish the chewed tablet-saliva mixture onto your teeth for about 30 seconds. Spit it out, rinse off with water and then examine your teeth. You may use your bathroom mirror, or even a small mirror to get a closer look.

Red stains indicate plaque. These stains highlight the areas where you should improve your brushing and flossing.

Now, some individuals may frown upon the idea of bright red staining, not only on the teeth but on your gums, tongue, or lips as well. Take note that the staining is temporary and will be gone after a few hours.

Plaque Disclosing Solutions:

Plaque Disclosing Solutions work in pretty much the same way as disclosing tablets, only that they are in liquid form already. Like in the tablet form, you have to swish the solution around your mouth for about the same time. Then, you also have to spit it out and check your teeth afterwards.

Some disclosing solutions are available as two-toned agents, which help differentiate between old and new plaque deposits.

Plaque Disclosing Swabs:

These swabs are pre-saturated with a disclosing solution. They are used by dabbing the swab along the tooth surface to show the plaque deposits. Compared to disclosing solutions, there are more convenient, more easily controlled, and less messy.

Plaque Light:

Plaque light requires the use of a special fluorescent solution that you’ll swish around your mouth and then rinse off with water. To detect plaque, you will have to use an ultraviolet light. The light will help make plaque more visible by giving it bright yellow-orange color.

The main advantage of the plaque light and fluorescent solution combo is that it doesn’t produce any visible stains in your mouth.

After using any of the disclosing products brush your teeth after and be sure to improve your brushing on the areas where plaque accumulates the most. Brush as thoroughly as you can until there are no stains left.

If you wish to be sure about the efficiency of your oral hygiene, use a disclosing agent for as long as you wish until you see less and less plaque.

Plaque disclosing agents are particularly helpful for kids, orthodontic patients, and individuals prone to tooth decay and gum disease.

Facts About Dental Fluorosis

Fluoride is a very important mineral that helps keep the teeth strong and healthy. It helps protect the teeth from decay, or reverse the early signs of decay when the destruction already exists. It does so by neutralizing or counteracting the harmful effects of the acids produced by decay-causing bacteria. But much like any other good stuff, too much fluoride is also a problem, as it can result to a condition called dental fluorosis.

Learn the basic facts about dental fluorosis in this article.

Dental fluorosis causes change in the appearance of the tooth enamel.

This change in appearance manifests as alteration of the color and/or surface texture of the enamel. Color change is characterized by the presence of white spots or brown streaks, while change in texture causes the enamel surface to become rough, pitted, or bumpy. These changes may remain throughout life. In some instances, the discolorations get darker over time.

Dental fluorosis can be mild, moderate, or severe.

Dental fluorosis is classified according to severity, although most cases of this condition are mild or very mild in nature. Very mild fluorosis is characterized by the presence of faint, lacy white streaks that are almost unnoticeable. It is often detected by your dentist during routine oral examination.

In mild fluorosis, the color change is more obvious and appears as bright white spots.

Moderate to severe fluorosis, on the other hand, are quite uncommon. Moderate fluorosis appears similar to mild fluorosis, except that it covers more tooth surface.

Severe fluorosis, meanwhile, has both color and surface texture alteration. It causes pitting of the enamel, in addition to the unsightly brown, black, or gray spots or streaks.

Dental fluorosis does not cause pain, discomfort, or problems in function.

The changes caused by dental fluorosis do not usually affect function, nor do they lead to any pain or discomfort. In fact, they can make the affected teeth much stronger and more resistant to decay. But these teeth can be quite unsightly and thus more of an esthetic concern for the patient.

Dental fluorosis often affects developing teeth.

Dental fluorosis is caused by taking too much fluoride for an extended period of time while the teeth are still developing. It commonly occurs before eight years of age. It can be avoided by supervising your kid every time they brush their teeth to ensure that they do not use too much of the fluoridated toothpaste or mouthwash, and that they spit it instead of swallowing.

Fluoridated oral hygiene goodies contain high amounts of the mineral.

Dental fluorosis may or may not require treatment.

Since dental fluorosis is mainly an esthetic concern and does not cause any pain, discomfort, or problems in function, treatment is often not necessary. But for patients who are conscious about the appearance of their teeth, microabrasion and/or teeth bleaching is/are recommended.

If the surface texture of the tooth is already altered, the patient may opt for composite fillings, veneers, or even crowns.

Using Mouthrinses in Kids: Top Considerations

When it comes to their kids’ oral health, parents must always be looking for ways to help improve care of their kid’s teeth and gums.

Needless to say, brushing and flossing are still the best ways to avoid of tooth decay and gum disease, but some kids – especially the older ones – may start to show some interest in incorporating mouthrinse as part of their oral hygiene routine.

For parents, here are some things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to let your kid use a mouthrinse.

Proper Age for Using Mouthrinses in kids

In general, kids younger than six years old must not be allowed to use a mouthrinse to avoid the risk of swallowing the product. It can be quite tricky and challenging for young kids to learn to swish the liquid instead of swallowing it like a drink.

Meanwhile, those aged six to twelve may use mouthrinse, but only under close adult supervision.

One good way to determine if your kid is ready to use a mouthrinse is to ask him or her to take a sip of water, gargle it around his or her mouth for a few seconds, then spit it out. If your kid can handle rinsing with water, they are more likely to do the same with mouthrinse.

Choosing between Alcohol-Containing vs. Alcohol-free Mouthrinses

Many different types of mouthrinses are available on the market, and the two varieties include the alcohol-containing and alcohol-free. Alcohol-free products are recommended because they can be just as effective as the alcohol-containing variety, but much more pleasant to use. When it comes to fluoride mouthrinses, parents are advised to avoid them for now, as fluoride can result in fluorosis of the kids’ developing teeth.

Fluorosis is a harmless condition, but it can be unsightly due to the changes it can cause to the teeth’s color and texture. It can cause formation of white spots or brown streaks on the tooth enamel, or make the tooth surfaces uneven and bumpy.

Using Mouthrinses while on Orthodontic Treatment

Kids who have dental braces can benefit the most from using  mouthrinse, because mechanical cleaning via toothbrush and floss is often not enough in removing plaque buildup underneath the wires and brackets.

Mouthrinses can be a good adjunct to loosen debris and neutralize the acid-producing bacteria in the mouth. With this three-pronged attack – brush, floss, and using mouthrinse – against plaque, kids should be able to adequately protect their teeth from tooth decay and gum disease while wearing braces. This, in turn, helps to ensure a successful orthodontic treatment that will result to straighter teeth in the end.

Mouthrinses as an Adjunct to Daily Oral Hygiene Routine

Regardless of the type of mouthrinse your kid uses, be sure to constantly remind him or her that they should not, in any way, replace the good old twice-daily toothbrushing and flossing. While it is true that mouthrinses offers great benefits against plaque, it cannot match the benefits provided by mechanical cleaning.

Follow the Advice of Your kid’s Dentist

Because mouthrinses is not advisable for every kid, consult with your kid’s dentist first. He or she will help determine if using a mouthrinse will indeed be beneficial for your kid’s teeth.

All about Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft lip and/or palate are among the most common birth defects worldwide. In the United States alone, more than 4000 babies are born with cleft lip every year, while as much as 3000 have cleft palate. These developmental defects occur when the structures that form the lip and/or roof of the mouth fail to fuse properly during embryonic development.

Risk Factors for Cleft Lip and Palate:

Risk factors that could lead to the development of cleft lip and palate include diabetes, smoking, alcohol abuse, and anti-seizure medications to name a few. Not taking enough folic acid may also be contributing factor.

Genetics and race may also play a role, as it has been found that babies of Asian, Native American, and Latin American descent are more likely to develop cleft lip and/or palate than everyone else.

Diagnosis of Cleft and Lip Palate:

Cleft lip can easily be diagnosed during pregnancy via routine ultrasound, while cleft palate may only be diagnosed after the baby is born. Some forms of cleft palate are diagnosed later in life.

Types of Cleft Lip and Palate:

There are two major types of cleft – cleft lip and cleft palate. Some babies are born with either cleft lip or cleft palate, but there are also those who have both.

A cleft lip appears like an opening on the edge of the upper lip, but in severe cases, it may extend up to the nose. It may be a partial or complete, unilateral (one-sided) or bilateral (both sides) cleft.

On the other hand, a cleft palate pertains to the split in the floor of the mouth, which results to communication between the nasal and oral cavity. The cleft usually involves the soft palate, or it may also extend into the bony hard palate.

Complications of Cleft Lip and Palate:

The most common problems associated with clefts are feeding difficulties, especially in the case of a cleft palate. The gap in the roof of the mouth prevents proper suction, and thus necessitates the use of special feeders that aid parents in feeding their babies.

Other complications that may arise include speech difficulties, ear infections and possible hearing loss, and dental problems such as misshapen, missing, or misaligned teeth. There may also be increased risk for tooth decay since the enamel of the teeth tends to be weaker, and the salivary flow is often decreased and less effective.

Treatment for Cleft Lip and Palate:

Cleft lip and palate is a complicated problem that requires team effort to manage. Treatment depends on the severity of the cleft. Some patients may only need orthodontic treatment, but surgery is required most of the time. Surgical treatment is often planned and executed by a team of specialists which usually include an orthodontist, an oral surgeon, a pediatrician, an otorhinolaryngologist (ENT specialist), and a speech therapist. The initial surgery will take place in as early as eight weeks.

Successful treatment shall help the patient achieve normal appearance and function.

The Oral Health Effects of E-Cigarettes

In the recent years, electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes for short), have become increasingly popular due to their look and feel that match that of real cigarettes. They are even being endorsed as the safer alternative to your conventional smoking, as these e-cigarettes can give smokers their nicotine fix without the adverse effects associated with tobacco use.

Nonetheless, studies have found that this supposedly safer alternative is actually posing more dangers to its users, particularly in their oral health.

Listed below are some surprising adverse reactions of e-cigarettes that you should watch out for:

Decreased Salivary Flow:

One of the most common side effects of e-cigarettes is decreased salivary flow, which occurs as a result of nicotine constricting or narrowing the blood vessels. Without enough saliva, there will be other problems like mouth and throat dryness which, in turn, can lead to tooth decay and bad breath.

Mucosal Irritation:

The nicotine in the e-cigarettes, or even tobacco smoking for that matter, gets absorbed by the oral mucosa. This, in turn, may cause irritation particularly of the mucosa of the cheeks and pharynx. Such irritation may manifest as redness, mouth sores and blisters.

Gum Recession:

Nicotine, being a vasoconstrictor, can also reduce the amount of blood flow to the gum tissues. Without enough blood, the gums do not receive the right amount of oxygen and nutrients needed for them to survive and stay healthy; hence, they shrink or recede.

Gum recession, in turn, exposes tooth roots and thus cause sensitivity.

Hides Symptoms of Gum Disease:

This effect is also related to the vasoconstrictive effects of nicotine. Bleeding is the main symptom of gum disease, which dentists use to determine the severity of gum inflammation.

Since nicotine can cause decreased blood flow to the gums, bleeding will be minimal to none, thus giving that false impression that the gum tissue is healthy even when you actually have gum disease. This makes it hard to diagnose the disease and by the time it is detected, the disease has progressed and is in a worse state already. More severe gum disease means more complicated treatment required.

Furthermore, the constriction caused by nicotine does not go away upon cessation of smoking – it lasts long after you quit.

Grinding:

Nicotine can also fire up the muscles, especially during sleep. The increased muscle activity may cause you to start grinding your teeth, or if you already are a grinder, then the grinding habit will be more intense than before.

Studies say that those who are exposed to nicotine, whether through electronic or conventional cigarettes, are five times more likely to develop teeth grinding habits that those who aren’t.

There are many other possible impact of e-cigarettes not only on oral health, but on overall health as well.

Although manufacturers claim that e-cigarettes are healthier than traditional cigarettes, more studies must be conducted to provide more solid evidences for such claim. Until then, the best thing to do is to stay away from both e-cigarettes and cigarettes.

What is Accelerated Orthodontics?

Accelerated orthodontics is a relatively new approach in orthodontics that works in pretty much the same way as your traditional braces, but requires much less time to produce the desired tooth movement. This new form of treatment is becoming increasingly popular in adults, as it promises to straighten teeth in just a couple of months instead of several years with regular orthodontics.

If you have crooked teeth and are suffering from the difficult consequence of such, then this speedier way of straightening your teeth may very well be the solution you’re looking for. Find out more about this treatment below.

Duration of Treatment

Traditional orthodontics requires a patient to wear braces for at least two years. With accelerated orthodontics, however, this period is shortened to as little as three months to a maximum of eight months. The end result is just the same – you get a more perfect smile and an overall improved dental health.

Dental Braces:

Just like traditional orthodontics, accelerated orthodontics also makes use of braces to force the teeth to shift into their desired position. There are three types of orthodontic braces – metal, ceramic, and lingual. Any one of these may be utilized in accelerated orthodontics.

Metal and ceramic braces tend to work better than lingual braces. Lingual braces, however, is the most esthetic of the three, as they are placed at the back of the teeth and thus hidden from plain view. Ceramic braces are not as esthetic as lingual braces, but it isn’t as noticeable as metal braces either.

Surgery Required:

While it has the upper hand when it comes to treatment duration, the main disadvantage of accelerated orthodontics is that it may require some minor surgical procedure. The surgery may be performed by the orthodontist himself, an oral surgeon, or a periodontist (a gum specialist). It is usually done in clinic setting, about a week after the braces are installed. It involves altering the bone and gum tissue that supports the teeth to be moved. Such alteration decreases the amount supporting bone, thus allowing the teeth to shift into their desired positions more quickly.

The surgery is done under local anesthesia, and causes just about the same level of discomfort as your typical dental cleaning. Some patients report an itching sensation because of the faster movement of the teeth.

Post-Treatment:

Once your teeth are in their desired alignment, you’ll also be required to use a retainer to prevent the teeth from moving back to their pre-treatment position.

Treatment Cost:

Although the duration of treatment is much shorter, the total cost for accelerated orthodontics is almost the same (or even higher) as that of traditional orthodontic treatment. This is because of the surgery required to produce faster tooth movement. Expect the price to be at least $2,000. This already includes the fee for the periodontist who will perform the surgery.

Unfortunately, most insurance companies do not cover accelerated orthodontics, but there are orthodontists who offer flexible payment terms.

To sum it up, accelerated orthodontics is a very promising option if you want to have your teeth straightened yet you dread the idea of wearing braces for several years.

To learn more about this treatment and find out if you are suitable for it, consult your orthodontist now for proper assessment.

Antibiotic Prophylaxis 101 – How Antibiotics Prevent Infections?

You most likely know what antibiotics are used for – they are for treating infections caused by bacteria. But did you know that your dentist may also suggest that you take them before a dental procedure to prevent the chance of infection? Such method of use is called antibiotic prophylaxis, and you will learn more about it in this article.

Why is antibiotic prophylaxis done?

Antibiotic prophylaxis is a protective measure taken by your dental professional to prevent bacteria from spreading from the mouth to the other parts of the body through the bloodstream. It is given prior to dental treatment in especially susceptible patients.

Who might benefit for antibiotic prophylaxis?

Not all patients require antibiotic prophylaxis. It is only used in susceptible individuals and these include, among others, patients who have or have had heart disease. These patients are at increased risk of developing this so-called endocarditis, which pertain to the inflammation of the tissue that lines the heart.

To limit the chances developing this disease, the American Heart Association released a guideline stating that antibiotic prophylaxis must be considered in the following individuals who have:

1) An artificial heart valve or have had a heart valve repaired with a prosthetic material.

2) A history of infective endocarditis.

3) A heart transplant that developed a valve problem.

4) Congenital heart conditions (i.e. unrepaired or incompletely-repaired congenital heart disease, completely-repaired heart defect within six months after the intervention, and repaired congenital heart disease but with residual defects).

Antibiotic prophylaxis was also once recommended for individuals who have had joint replacements, as these individuals have a compromised immune system that makes them less able to fight infections. But such recommendation is no longer followed.

Other conditions that may warrant antibiotic prophylaxis include uncontrolled or poorly-controlled diabetes, HIV infection or AIDS, and rheumatoid arthritis. Individuals who have had chemotherapy or organ transplant may also need antibiotic prophylaxis.

Will I need antibiotic prophylaxis even if I’m systemically healthy?

Yes, there will be some instance where antibiotic prophylaxis may be needed. Such instances include:

1) Undergoing an extensive procedure that carries a great risk of infection.

2) Undergoing a procedure that will be performed in an environment where the risk of developing an infection is very likely.

3) When there is a coexisting oral infection.

Which dental procedures may require antibiotic prophylaxis?

Antibiotic prophylaxis is required for any dental procedure where bleeding is anticipated. These include extractions, periodontal treatment (cleaning), implant surgery, root canal therapy, and placement of orthodontic bands. Restorative and prosthodontic procedures generally do not warrant the use of prophylactic antibiotics.

Why can’t all everyone be given antibiotic prophylaxis?

Antibiotic prophylaxis is only used in instances where potential benefits outweigh the risks. If antibiotics are used when they’re not supposed to, there can be side effects that are mostly gastrointestinal in nature. There may also be allergic reactions that can be life-threatening.

Furthermore, frequent use of antibiotics when they are not really needed can render the bacteria more resistant to these medications. With that, antibiotic prophylaxis are reserved only for those at greatest risk getting infected during dental treatment.

When asking for your medical history, be sure to tell your dentist every bit he or she has to know, especially about your medical problems and the medications you are taking for them. These information should help your dentist and physician determine whether or not you could benefit from antibiotic prophylaxis.