Antibiotic Cover:

In 2005 the Department of Health asked the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to look at the conflicting advice in relation to antibiotic prophylaxis against infective endocarditis.

After a very detailed analysis of all the available evidence they have concluded that there is no evidence that dental treatment procedures increase the risk of these infections.

The NICE guidelines on ‘Prophylaxis against Infective Endocarditis’ recommends that antibiotic prophylaxis should not be given to adults and children with structural cardiac defects undergoing dental procedures. The full guidelines can be found at

The main reason is the lack of any supporting evidence that dental treatment leads to IE and the increasing worry that administration of antibiotics may lead to other serious complications such as anaphylaxis (severe allergy) or antibiotic resistance.

Patients with cardiac defects should concentrate on achieving and maintaining a high standard of oral and dental health as this does reduce the risk of endocarditis.  Help for this will be provided by your dentist.

Antibiotics for dental problems:

Antibiotics are only prescribed in cases of increased temperature, spreading infection and swelling where drainage of the infection is limited or not possible.  It is very important to use antibiotics appropriately to minimise the risks of encouraging antibiotic resistant bacteria such as MRSA.