Endocarditis, fortunately, is a rare but serious infection. It occurs when bacteria enter the blood stream and deposit on to a heart valve causing damage. Bacteria enter the bloodstream via intravenous drug use but also can occur, but uncommonly, through medical procedures as well as dental procedures. Once present, bacteria can then to spread to different parts of the body causing further organ damage. If severe enough, surgery is required to replace the diseased valve. Treatment is usually intravenous antibiotics for many weeks.
The current recommendations for endocarditis prevention will mean fewer individuals will need antibiotics.
Individuals recommended to still take antibiotics prior to dental work include those with:
- A prosthetic heart valve.
- A history of previous endocarditis.
- A history of congenital heart disease (check with your doctor on the specifics).
- Individuals who received a heart transplantation with heart valvular disease.