Question: Dear Dr. B, I just started a ten day round of antibiotics while waiting two weeks for an extraction on a molar that has had a crown and root canal, but is still painful. As I have mitral valve prolapse, I am wondering if the antibiotics will keep my heart safe. I just can’t get an earlier appointment anywhere. – Mindy from New Albany, Indiana
Answer: Mindy, Chances are, taking the antibiotic will keep your heart safe from a systemic infection from the infected tooth — but that’s assuming it’s the correct antibiotic. There is no one antibiotic that will reliably kill all bacteria involved with tooth infections.
If the infected site is feeling better, is less swollen, and is less tender, then you can assume the antibiotic is doing its job.
If the tooth pain is still there, then you need to switch antibiotics to something more targeted to the specific bacteria that are causing that tooth infection.
In other words, it will only keep you safe if the antibiotic is killing the bacteria that are causing the tooth infection. You are not looking for an antibiotic that will prevent a bacterial infection of your heart. Target the tooth, not the heart.
As always, I would recommend you speak with your cardiologist and take a look at the recommendations from the American Dental Association (ADA) together with the American Heart Association (AHA).
Hope that helps.