Taking antibiotics before dental visits may cause serious side effects

taking antibiotics before dental visits

Not only are antibiotics vastly overprescribed before most dental visits, using them for even a day or two increases the risk of serious side effects such as an allergic reaction or Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) infection, according to a large national study presented at IDWeek earlier this month (2-6 October).

Antibiotics are often prescribed for a day or two before dental visits to prevent infections in certain people, such as those who have had hip or knee replacements, but current American Dental Association and American Heart Association guidelines no longer recommend this in most cases. 

The study of nearly 170,000 dental visits determined 80 per cent of antibiotics prescribed before dental visits to prevent infection are unnecessary. 

“While antibiotics can be lifesaving, they can cause significant adverse events even after being taken for only a day or two,” said Alan E. Gross, PharmD, clinical associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy. 

“Also, misuse can lead to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics should only be prescribed when necessary and people should talk with their dentist or physician to ask if they truly need antibiotics prior to a dental visit.”

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