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Patient Forms & Education

Antibiotic Prophylaxis for Heart and Orthopedic Patients

At times, physicians and dentists recommend that a patient take antibiotics before certain dental procedures. This is called “antibiotic prophylaxis”.  But why do healthcare providers suggest this step?

We all have bacteria in our mouth, and a number of dental treatments can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream (bacteremia). For most of us, this isn’t a problem. A healthy immune system prevents these bacteria from causing any harm.

There is concern, however, that for some people, bacteremia can cause an infection elsewhere in the body. The American Heart Association has guidelines identifying people who should take antibiotics prior to dental care. According to these guidelines, antibiotic prophylaxis should be considered for people with artificial hearts, someone with a history of infective endocarditis, some patients with a heart murmur, and others who have heart defects. Patients who have had orthopedic implants such as artificial joints are also candidates for prophylaxis.

Talk to your dentist about these guidelines if you have any questions which may affect your treatment.

Dental Exams

Preventative Dental Care
Dental exams are an important part of your preventive dental care program. Many patients fail to understand the link between dental and overall health of the body. Many consider dental care to be optional or that financially, it is not an option. Regular dental exams are necessary to help you maintain a healthy smile and lifestyle. Think of the dental exam as maintenance for your teeth. They are the most cost-effective dental treatment you can have. That is the reason insurance companies routinely cover the fee at 100%. The initial exam is designed to establish a baseline of your oral health and to examine and diagnose any dental conditions that may need treatment. Many conditions do not have any noticeable symptoms. Skipping your regular checkup could cause a small cavity to develop into a costly procedure like a root canal.
New Patients
New patients receive a comprehensive exam that include a detailed medical history including all medications to make us aware of the possibility of drug interactions as well as allergies. Also, there are many medications which cause dry mouth and bleeding gums. It is important to document the patients medical history because certain things like joint replacements, heart conditions or previous surgeries can affect your treatment.
What Happens at Your First Appointment?
We will check your blood pressure and pulse, complete a head and neck exam, an oral cancer exam, take all necessary x-rays (we use the latest digital x-rays which deliver a detailed image instantly on a computer screen with 90% less radiation), perform a periodontal evaluation (checking the health of your gums), TMJ (jaw) exam, and a thorough examination of your teeth and supporting structures, checking every tooth and filling as well as chart all current conditions in your mouth and provide a treatment plan with recommendations to correct whatever dental disease is found.
Existing Patients
A more routine exam is done on our existing patients at their six month recall visits where all of this information is updated and any changes are noted. All of our recommendations are based on our findings. This procedure can be time consuming and expensive but it is critical in your overall dental care. A dental cleaning is usually done at this time as well. The dentist or hygienist clean the teeth using hand scalers (to scrape the hard tarter) and ultrasonic scalers above and below the gum as well as between the teeth. The teeth are then polished giving them that great smooth feeling we all love. Fluoride treatments are done at this time to help reduce sensitivity, reduce decay, or help remineralize enamel in patients needing this extra step.
6 Month Checkups
Professional cleanings are recommended every six months, or as frequently as every three months if you are diagnosed with periodontal disease or have other risk factors such as diabetes or smoking. Those patients who require “deep cleanings” might be better served by more frequent cleanings to avoid further damage.
Special Considerations
Home care habits and recommendations will be reviewed with you by the dentist or hygienist specific for your individual needs and conditions. Special treatment considerations are also given for toddlers, young children, seniors and patients with disabilities.
Take Home Care Bag
At the end of your visit, you will be provided with a take home bag designed to promote at home oral health practices. This bag may include a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and any items which we may recommend for your specific needs like a mouth rinse, tongue scraper, rubber tip stimulator, proxy brushes, or bridge flossers for those hard to clean places in your mouth.
Keep Your Mouth Healthy
There is nothing better than proper dental hygiene to preserve your teeth for life. By keeping your mouth healthy, you prevent many potential dental problems, keep your smile bright, and ultimately avoid heavy financial investments at the dental office. It is definitely a better quality of life when you have your own teeth!