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Dental Hygiene

Flu-like symptoms after dental cleaning

06/25/2007

Question:

Although I have often had some gum and tooth sensitivity for a day or so after a dental cleaning, after my most recent visit I got chills and a low-grade fever (about 100) accompanied by a headache when I move my head quickly and a general malaise. Could this have been caused by stirring up some bacteria in the gums? If so, is it dangerous? I know that people with heart valve problems take antibiotics prophylactically before dental work, but have never been told that I have such problems. My dental hygeinist was particularly thorough in this cleaning, and the work she did in one area was particularly painful. As someone who teaches microbiology, I`m wondering if some gram negative bacteria may have been let loose in my system causing the symptoms. What should I do to prevent such reactions in the future?

Answer:

I have never heard of this happening before.  Yes, there are gram negative bacteria subgingivally, and they were probably let loose in your system, but even flossing can disrupt gram negative bacteria.  It could be coincidence, as I have never read anything in the literature about this happening.  One thing that might help in the future is to rinse for 30 seconds with Listerine prior to having your teeth cleaned.

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Response by:

Michele P Carr, RDH,  MA Michele P Carr, RDH, MA
Associate Professor of Dental Hygiene
Associate Professor of HS Nursing Quality & Research
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University