Heart disease risked during dental treatment

Patients with heart problems face increased risk of life-threatening infective endocarditis due to lack of prescribed antibiotics during dental visits, contradicting international medical advice.

Patients with heart problems are dying needlessly every year because they are not being given antibiotics when they visit the dentist, doctors have said.

Tens of thousands of people are at high risk of developing life-threatening infective endocarditis any time they have dental treatment, they said1.

Infective endocarditis (IE) is an infection of the heart’s inner lining and the valves that separate each of the heart’s four chambers. In about 30% to 40% of cases it is caused by bacteria in the mouth getting into the bloodstream as a result of poor oral hygiene or invasive dental treatment.

The doctors say the danger has arisen because the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) does not follow international good medical practice and tell dentists to give at-risk patients antibiotics before they have a tooth extracted, root canal treatment or scale removed.


  1. Endocarditis prevention: time for a review of NICE guidance – Martin Thornhill, Bernard Prendergast, Mark Dayer, Ash Frisby, Larry M. Baddour

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Published: 7 July, 2024 at 15:06