Scaling back on antibiotics

Published: October, 2007

Most people, even those with heart disease, don't need to take antibiotics before a routine dental or surgical procedure.

Since the 1950s, the American Heart Association (AHA) and other medical organizations have urged a sizable group of people to take antibiotics before having dental work, a colonoscopy, or other procedures that might dump bacteria into the bloodstream. A dose of penicillin, so the thinking went, could prevent infective endocarditis, a potentially serious infection of the lining of the heart. After a hard-nosed look at the latest evidence, an expert panel assembled by the AHA puts much more emphasis on taking care of your teeth and limits preprocedure antibiotics to a smaller group.

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