If you have heart disease – even as minor as a murmur – or have recently had heart surgery, it’s important to let your dentist know about your condition prior to your visit. Taking this extra precaution can be vitally important to safeguarding your health.
Why It’s Important
Any time there is bleeding in the mouth, oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart. This presents a risk for some patients who have cardiac abnormalities or other heart conditions. The bacteria may cause endocarditis, which is a serious inflammation of the heart valves or tissues.
The American Heart Association and the American Dental Association publish guidelines for dentists to help them protect patients at risk of developing bacterial endocarditis. The guidelines recommend the use of antibiotics before dental treatment, based on patients’ medical conditions and on the dental treatment they will receive.
Taking antibiotics prior to the treatment may be necessary for dental procedures such as professional tooth cleaning, extractions, incision and drainage of infected oral tissue, some types of injections and some oral surgeries.
Even routine dental procedures, such as cleaning, can cause bleeding in the mouth, which then allows oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream and possibly travel to the heart. For a patient with a heart condition, the bacteria pose the potentially dangerous risk of inflammation of the heart valves or tissue. Because of this, for patients with cardiac issues, antibiotics are recommended prior to any dental visit, even routine cleanings.
In general, patients who have suffered a heart attack should wait six months before undergoing any type of dental treatment and must communicate any medications they are taking, especially any anticoagulants, or blood-thinning drugs. Patients who experience regular chest pain should consult with their doctors.
Learn what your dentist can do in the case of medical emergency, and find out if there is oxygen and nitroglycerin available if needed. Be sure your dentist has your complete medical history, including any relevant blood work, and names and contact information for other healthcare providers with whom they may need to consult.
Always be sure to let your dentist know if you have any health concerns before an appointment, and particularly if you might have a heart condition. Your continued good health depends on it!
If you are concerned about how dental work may affect your heart condition or have additional questions or concerns, contact our office today to schedule a consultation.