Are Antibiotics Used To Treat Gum Disease?

February 11, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — drnewman @ 6:07 am
Picture of an antibiotic

Gum disease is unfortunately incredibly common, with around 50% of adults having the condition to a certain extent. This disease is a consequence of bacterial buildup, which means that a large portion of a dentist’s work comes down to properly managing bacterial infection.

That being the case, you might wonder whether antibiotics have any role to play in oral medicine. The answer is yes, though the nature of their use can be a little bit complicated to explain. Here’s what you should know if you’re curious.

Can Antibiotics Treat Gum Disease?
Given that gum disease is fundamentally a bacterial infection, you may wonder whether it’s possible to treat it effectively with an antibiotic. Unfortunately, this isn’t really a possibility.

Due to the particular way that the blood flows to the mouth, there simply aren’t enough white blood cells that actually reach the teeth in order to effectively counter the bacteria that live there. That being the case, it’s not possible to counter disease in the mouth with antibiotics on their own.

How Are Antibiotics Used in Dentistry?

That said, there are some uses for antibiotics in dentistry. The most prominent are in circumstances where bacteria in the mouth could potentially spread elsewhere in the body, particularly to the heart. When a lot of plaque is cleaned from the mouth, it can sometimes enter the bloodstream and begin to form plaque deposits there. This is rare and not usually serious, but some patients can’t afford to take the risk due to pre-existing heart conditions. For such patients, a dentist may recommend taking an antibiotic before showing up to their appointment.

How Do I Know If I Need to Take Antibiotics Before My Appointment?

If you need antibiotics before your dental appointment, your dentist would almost certainly tell you—after all, they’ll be the ones to prescribe them. That said, you could need these antibiotics if:

  • Certain congenital heart defects, including:
    • Cyanotic congenital heart disease (birth defects with oxygen levels lower than normal) that has not been fully repaired, including in children who have had surgical shunts and conduits
    • A congenital heart defect that has been completely repaired with prosthetic material or a device for the first six months after the repair procedure
  • Repaired congenital heart disease with residual defects, such as persisting leaks or abnormal flow at, or adjacent to, a prosthetic patch or prosthetic device
  • A history of endocarditis
  • A heart transplant with abnormal heart valve function
  • A prosthetic heart valve or a heart valve repair with prosthetic material

About Our Practice

At Gramercy Dental Studio, we find that patients are often surprised at how personalized the dentistry we provide them with. We make it a point to greet all of our patients like they’re old friends, and to understand them well as individuals. This not only makes the care we provide much more personalized, but it also allows us to ensure that everyone we serve is completely comfortable for the duration of their time with us.

If you have any questions about gum disease treatment, we can be reached at our website or by phone at (212) 924-6890.

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