The evidence base for the efficacy of antibiotic prophylaxis in dental practice

Department of Oral Medicine, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC 28232-2861, USA.
Journal of the American Dental Association (1939) (Impact Factor: 2.01). 04/2007; 138(4):458-74; quiz 534-5, 437. DOI: 10.14219/jada.archive.2007.0198
Source: PubMed


People with various medical conditions and devices are suggested candidates for receiving antibiotic prophylaxis before undergoing dental procedures. This practice is controversial, however, owing to the lack of proof of efficacy. The authors conducted a qualitative, systematic review to determine the level of evidence for this practice and whether antibiotic prophylaxis prevents distant site infections in these patients.
The authors selected eight groups of patients with specific medical conditions and devices who often are given antibiotic prophylaxis before undergoing invasive dental procedures. The conditions and devices were cardiac-native heart valve disease, prosthetic heart valves and pacemakers; hip, knee and shoulder prosthetic joints; renal dialysis shunts; cerebrospinal fluid shunts; vascular grafts; immunosuppression secondary to cancer and cancer chemotherapy; systemic lupus erythematosus; and insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes mellitus. The authors thoroughly searched the literature for the years 1966 through 2005 for references indicating some level of support for this practice and graded each publication on the basis of level of evidence.
The authors found formal recommendations in favor of antibiotic prophylaxis for only three of the eight medical conditions: native heart disease, prosthetic heart valves and prosthetic joints. They found no prospective randomized clinical trials and only one clinical study of antibiotic prophylaxis. Only one systematic review and two case series provided weak, if any, support for antibiotic prophylaxis in patients with cardiac conditions. The authors found little or no evidence to support this practice or to demonstrate that it prevents distant site infections for any of these eight groups of patients.
No definitive, scientific basis exists for the use of prophylactic antibiotics before dental procedures for these eight groups of patients.

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    • "The third is a combination of the first two, where there is difficulty distinguishing between personal lack of knowledge and limitations in current knowledge [6]. Within this clinical area there is lack of evidence for the effectiveness of antibiotic prophylaxis [7,8], which could affect clinicians' personal confidence in their decisions. "
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    ABSTRACT: Common dental procedures induce bacteremia. To prevent infectious complications from bacteremia in patients with specific medical conditions, antibiotic prophylaxis is considered. Recommendations are often unclear and ambiguous. In a previous study we reported wide variations in general dental practitioners' (GDPs') administrations of antibiotic prophylaxis. We hypothesized that within such a conflicting clinical area, decisions are made with a high level of personal uncertainty. This study examined GDPs' confidence in their decisions and analyzed the extent to which case-related factors might explain individual variations in confidence. Postal questionnaires in combination with telephone interviews were used. The response rate was 51% (101/200). There were no significant differences between respondents and non-respondents regarding sex, age, or place of work. The GDPs were presented to patient cases of different medical conditions, where some should receive antibiotic prophylaxis according to recommendations when performing dental procedures that could cause gingival bleeding. The GDPs assessed on visual analogue scales how confident they were in their decisions. The extent to which case-related factors, medical condition and dental procedure, could explain individual variation in confidence was analyzed. Overall the GDPs exhibited high confidence in their decisions regardless of whether they administered antibiotic prophylaxis or not, or whether their decisions were in accordance with recommendations or not. The case-related factors could explain between 30-100% of the individual variation in GDPs' confidence. For 46%, the medical condition significantly explained the individual variation in confidence. However, for most of these GDPs, lower confidence was not presented for conditions where recommendations are unclear and higher confidence was not presented for conditions where recommendations are more clear. For 8% the dental procedure significantly explained the variation, although all procedures could cause bacteremia. For 46% neither the medical condition nor the dental procedure could significantly explain the individual variation in confidence. The GDPs presented high confidence in their decisions, and the majority of GDPs did not present what could be considered a justified varied level of confidence according to the clarity of recommendations. Clinicians who are overconfident in their decisions may be less susceptible to modifications of their behavior to more evidence-based strategies.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2009 · BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making
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    • "The danger to the field of clinical medicine in general, and dentistry in particular, specifically for certain patients groups, which conclusions based on the ‘level of evidence’ could bring, is clearly enormous. Case in point, a recent communication (7) reported the evaluation of the ‘level of evidence’ for antibiotic prophylaxis. The mere fact that the studies reviewed were not the ‘optimal’ clinical trials (8), led the authors to conclude that the evidence for prophylaxis was insufficiently strong. "
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    ABSTRACT: This article discusses some of the misconceptions of evidence-based research in the health sciences. It proposes that since not all treatments in medicine and dentistry can be evidence-based, clinical applications of the evidence-based process should become a specialty. The case is particularly evident in dentistry. Therefore dentistry is taken in this article as a model for discussion. We propose that to approach dentistry from the viewpoint of the patient-oriented evidence that matters (POEM) is perfectly acceptable so far as we also engage in the process of research evaluation and appraisal in dentistry (READ). We distinguish between dentistry based on the evidence, and evidence-based dentistry. We argue that when invoking an evidence-based approach to dentistry or medicine, it is not sufficient to establish the 'levels of evidence', but rather that all evidence-based clinical intervention must undergo the stringent process of evidence-based research so that clinical practice guidelines be revised based on the best available evidence.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2008 · Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to determine whether not treating chronic dental infection during the admission for cardiac valve surgery would increase the morbidity and mortality of patients. Patients were divided into three groups: dentally unhealthy and untreated (Group A), dentally healthy not requiring treatment (Group B), and dentally unhealthy and treated (Group C). Hospital computer records and phone interviews were used to assess morbidity and mortality as assessed through the Social Security Death Index. Ninety-eight patient charts were reviewed. Patients in Group A (n = 47)were not at a significantly greater risk for developing infective endocarditis (IE) within 6 months of cardiac surgery compared to patients in Groups B (n = 17) and C (n = 34). Also, patients in Group A did not have a significantly higher rate of mortality compared to other groups (p= .09). The results suggest that there is no need to treat chronic oral infections in patients with compromised cardiac function within 24 to 48 hours prior to cardiac valve replacement surgery since this will not lower the risk of IE and death following cardiac valve surgery. Multicenter prospective case-controlled studies are needed to address this question definitively.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2008 · Special Care in Dentistry
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