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Understanding Endocarditis


Endocarditis is a rare life-threatening inflammation of the heart lining and its valves that is caused by bacteria. This can happen to anyone, but is more likely to occur in certain people who are at a much higher risk. If you are at high risk your doctor may advise you to take antibiotics prior to your dental treatment. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends people with the following conditions be premedicated with antibiotics prior to dental treatment:

  1. Prior bacterial endocarditis
  2. A prosthetic cardiac valve
  3. Cardiac valve disease
  4. Congenital heart disease (present at birth) of the following: unrepaired congenital cyanotic heart disease, repaired congenital cyanotic heart disease for 6 month after treatment, and repaired cyanotic heart disease with remaining defects.

When in doubt, always consult with your physician to determine the best course of action. Patients who require preventive antibiotics typically take a single dose around one hour before dental treatment. These antibiotics are not necessary for all dental procedures so be sure to consult with your dental practitioner to determine if a preventive antibiotic is necessary. Please keep your dental office updated on any health changes you may experience to lower your risk of infection. And, as always, good oral hygiene at home is critical to your oral and overall health. For more information about this and other dental related topics, visit

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