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Breast Implants: Are prophylactic antibiotics necessary prior to dental work?

August 7 2015 , Written by Dr. Glynn Bolitho

For years, this is a topic which has been worthy of discussion because many board certified plastic surgeons have a different opinion on the matter. The belief on whether or not a patient who has breast implants should take a prophylactic antibiotic before a dental procedure, including a routine cleaning, is a split decision, at best.

While it’s a highly recommended prescription for some doctors, others don’t see the necessity in pre-medicating their patients.

Despite which way a patient’s doctor sways, it’s incredibly important to be proactive regarding one’s health and wellness. If a patient has done their own thorough research, and has made their own decision on the pre-antibiotic issue prior to a visit to the dentist, then this should be shared with their doctor.

Why Doctors Are Proponents of Prophylactic Antibiotics

Implants are used for breast augmentation and breast reconstruction procedures. Some plastic surgeons agree in routinely prescribing prophylactic antibiotics. Roughly about one hour before visiting the dentist or dental hygienist, a woman is instructed to take her antibiotic dose with food.

Doctors who prefer to medicate their patients usually convey that if a person has minimal side effects from antibiotics, prescribing a prophylactic antibiotic is optimal. The reasoning behind this medication is to avoid an infection or capsular contraction.

While this is an infrequent occurrence and complication, some surgeons would rather not have their patients take the risk.

When one visits the dentist, bacteria are naturally released into the bloodstream. While traveling through the bloodstream, bacteria have the potential to settle on a foreign body which may include:

And more…

For these physicians, the antibiotic pathway is an extra precaution.

Tips To Deal With Stomach Upset

Some women who have stomach sensitivity may feel slight nausea from the antibiotics. Taking the prescribed medication with food will help alleviate this. With that said, some patients prefer to have their digital x-rays done on another day if this triggers additional nausea due to sensitive gag reflexes.

In instances such as this, a patient will have a dental cleaning with their medication on one day, and return a week or two later, to have their x-rays performed without the need for antibiotics.

Again, this is up to the patient and she can make the determination on what is best for her.

Why Doctors Are Opponents of Prophylactic Antibiotics

Other doctors have chimed in on this topic expressing that the need for prophylactic antibiotics is prescription heavy-handedness. This group believes that a woman succumbing to an infection or capsular contracture is highly unlikely.

They also hold the opinion that there is no scientific data to prove a direct correlation between dental procedures and this type of implant side effect. These doctors believe it is irrational to prescribe women antibiotics a couple times a year (or more) for these dental visits.

Doctors who oppose this protocol say that the frequent prescription may lead to bacteria resistance and they want to avoid this.

A Personal Decision

Again, whether or not to take a prophylactic antibiotic is indeed a personal decision. A woman who has undergone breast reconstruction may feel adamant about taking the prescription since she has experienced a long and emotional breast cancer journey.

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