If you want a missing tooth replaced, then a dental implant might be a great option. However, certain underlying health conditions can cause complications with the surgery needed to secure an artificial tooth in the mouth. If you have heart problems, then you may be concerned about the possibility of forming endocarditis. If this is a concern of yours, then keep reading to understand the heart condition and how a dentist will help you avoid it.
What Is Endocarditis?
Endocarditis is a heart infection that affects the inside lining of the organ. The infection is a bacterial one where microorganisms move through the blood and then attach to the tissues inside the chambers of the heart. The bacteria will then infect damaged and diseased tissues of the organ. Typically, the infection will cause severe damage to the heart valves. If an endocarditis infection is serious enough, then surgical intervention may be needed to replace or repair the valves.
Endocarditis is often treated with antibiotics, and you may need to be hospitalized while the condition is being treated. Blood tests and image testing with the use of endocardiogram and electrocardiogram machines will be used to assess your condition and whether or not surgery is required.
How Can A Dental Implant Cause Endocarditis?
Endocarditis forms only when bacteria travel through the blood and reach the heart. This means the microorganisms will need a way into the blood stream. Thankfully, the body has its own protective mechanisms to make sure that bacteria cannot readily enter the body. When the body undergoes trauma, the bleeding blood vessels, the clotting agents, and the white blood cells in the blood all work together to make sure that microorganisms do not get into the blood stream. However, surgical procedures open up large areas of the body to bacteria that may be present in the environment. Sterile operating rooms and surgical tools help to keep infections at bay. When an operation occurs in the mouth though, a great deal of bacteria will be present along the tissues that need to be cut. These bacteria can easily enter the blood.
Your dentist will use dental dams, saline rinses, and other types of techniques to prevent bacterial infections as much as possible. Your infection risks will increase though, with dental implantation due to the invasiveness of the operation. If you already have a weak heart, then your risks will go up even more.
Can Endocarditis Be Avoided?
During your initial dental implant consultation, your oral surgeon will assess your situation and evaluate your endocarditis risk factors. While your heart condition may mean that you have an elevated risk of developing a heart infection, you may not be considered a high risk patient. High risk patients are individuals who have developed endocarditis in the past or who have undergone a valve replacement surgery. People with artificial heart valves or individuals who have certain types of congenital heart conditions will have heightened infection risks too.
If you are a high risk patient, then your oral surgeon can prescribe you antibiotics before your dental implant surgery to help prevent the bacterial infection from forming. This is a called antibiotic prophylaxis. You will also need to take antibiotics after your dental implant surgery is over, and this often means that you will need a long course of medication.
However, longer courses of antibiotics can cause some issues. The medication can kill most of the bacteria in the body, including the good bacteria that help you digest food. This can lead to diarrhea, gas, and general digestive discomfort. Also, while most of the bacteria will be killed off, the antibiotic resistant microorganisms will be left behind. These bacteria can multiply and create a life threatening bodily infection. Make sure to speak to an oral surgeon like Dale Lentz about your possible infection risks and the downsides of using long courses of antibiotics before you decide if a dental implant and the use of antibiotic prophylaxis is right for you.