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Antibiotics Dos and Don’ts

If you’re preparing for oral surgery, you might have concerns and questions about the healing process. Both pre-surgery and post-operative care are important, and it’s essential that you follow your surgeon’s instructions carefully to ensure your procedure goes smoothly. And how about antibiotics? Will you receive a prescription before surgery? Afterward? What do you need to know about antibiotics? The answers to these questions truly depend on your situation. Here are some of the dos and don’ts regarding antibiotics and oral surgery:

Do share your medical history with your dental and surgical team. You might wonder why your oral surgeon needs to know about your medical history if you’re just getting dental implants or wisdom or other teeth removed. In short, they’re trying to ensure that you’re not at risk for developing an infection—because those who have had heart issues are more susceptible. During procedures, bacteria can get into the bloodstream. For people who have serious congenital heart conditions or other problems, such an infection could be life threatening. Bottom line: be sure to share your medical history with your oral surgeon.

Don’t assume that preventative antibiotics are needed. There was a time when the American Heart Association recommended that patients with heart conditions take antibiotics before any oral surgery or other dental procedure, such as a root canal. The thinking was that doing so could help prevent life-threatening infection caused by bacteria getting into the bloodstream. Today, however, the AHA says there isn’t sufficient proof that preventative antibiotics are helpful in preventing infection.

Do talk with your doctor about preventative antibiotics. Still, for some patients, preventative antibiotics are advised. For example, if you have had a cardiac transplant, have artificial heart valves, or you’ve had certain cardiac conditions, your oral surgeon might prescribe an antibiotic. Again—it’s important to share your medical history with your surgeon before surgery to ensure you receive the best care.

Don’t ignore warning signs of infection. While most patients recover from wisdom teeth removal, tooth extractions, and dental implant surgery without complication, infection can happen. Swelling, bleeding, and mild pain are common side effects of any oral surgery. However, you should definitely call your oral surgeon if you have increasing pain several days after surgery, pus coming from the surgical site, difficulty moving your jaw or opening your mouth, or a fever of above 101 degrees.

Do follow post-operation instructions. You’ll feel your best after surgery if you follow the instructions provided by your surgeon. That means practicing good oral hygiene, not smoking or using tobacco, avoiding alcohol immediately after surgery, and eating and drinking the right things (e.g. nothing hard or crunchy or requiring the use of a straw). In doing so, you’ll minimize your risk of infection—and the necessity of antibiotics.

At Bergen Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, we know that patients often have questions about antibiotics—both antibiotics they are currently taking and those we might prescribe pre- or post-surgery.

We’re happy to discuss your particular situation! Call us to arrange a consultation at one of our convenient office locations: Hackensack: 201.343.8297, Westwood: 201.664.5656, or Ridgewood: 201.444.4137.