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Dental and Oral Health Center

Periodontal disease

06/30/2009

Question:

I think my mother has periodontal disease because her gums are receding and are covered with red sores, pockets are forming around her teeth, and her teeth are becoming narrower. I want her to see a dentist, but I am afraid of her heart murmur. I was told that because of the AMA, dentists stopped giving their patients with heart murmurs antibiotics before dental cleanings. This really worries me because she has borderline high LDL cholesterol levels(but a good HDL level of 61), at times high blood pressure, menopause, and a heart murmur. I am afraid that these are all risk factors for a heart attack, and that getting a dental cleaning would just expedite or worsen her situation. How about if the plaque from her gums spreads to her heart or other serious complications occur? How did the AMA come to the decision of not giving patients with heart murmurs antibiotics?

Answer:

It is very important to take your mother to the dentist, which is considered to be standard care -- especially if she has a history of heart murmur, high cholesterol, and blood pressure.

It has been demonstrate that bacteria accumulated from periodontal disease can affect the human body, especially heart disease. Every time she swallows, the bacteria are going down into her body.

The AMA made this decision based on research that has been going on for many years that demonstrated that it is not necessary to pre-medicate this type of patient. More information could be found on the AMA website.

For more information:

Go to the Dental and Oral Health Center health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Alfredo  Hernandez, DDS, MS Alfredo Hernandez, DDS, MS
Assistant Professor of Comprehensive Care
School of Dental Medicine
Case Western Reserve University