Does going to a dentist or oral surgeon pose risks for heart patients? According to recent evidence, it is important to communicate with your cardiologist and your dentist if you suffer from a heart condition to determine risks and take the proper action. Your medications may interact with dental products, while the procedures might cause you additional problems.
Potential Risks of Oral Surgery for Heart Patients
In the past, the American Heart Association recommended that you take antibiotics before any type of dental work. As of 2012, the guidelines moved away from this practice. However, as a heart patient, there are other common risks involved in invasive dental work, including oral surgery:
- Dental care, and especially oral surgery, may pose risks to you if you have certain heart-related conditions. For example, anesthesia used in dental surgeries may contain epinephrine that can increase already high blood pressure and lead to angina, heart attack, and arrhythmia.
- If you have had a heart attack, studies indicate that invasive procedures can increase your risk of another incident. According to one recent piece of research among 1,152 Medicare patients who had experienced an attack over the past five years, those who had oral surgery or other procedures were 1.5 times more likely to have a repeat event within the month after treatment. Risk dropped after a month, which speaks to the need to have your medical professionals assess your risk.
- If you have had angina, your doctor should weigh in on any planned dental surgery. If you have stable angina (predictable chest pain) you may get the okay; if you have unstable angina, the recommendation may be that you postpone elective procedures and that you have emergency work done in a hospital.
- Dental surgical procedures can lead to excessive bleeding if you are on anticoagulants. If you can’t put off the work, you may need to have it performed in a hospital setting or in a dental environment where there is oxygen and nitroglycerin on hand. If your dentist indicates you need a procedure, your physician might instruct you on how to manage your medication.
- Another risk is that of inflammation that occurs during surgery for periodontal disease. Added inflammation can bring on strokes and heart attacks. While the surgery might be recommended to solve a serious condition, there is research that suggests that the bacteria from gum disease can cause inflation of blood vessels.
Precautions to Take Before any Dental Work
When you need an extraction, gum surgery, or other procedure, there are three things you should do to prevent a problem:
- Provide you dentist and oral surgeon with a complete list of your medications.
- Give your dental professional the name of your doctor and cardiologist so that they can communicate about your course of treatment.
- Talk to your oral surgeon and your heart doctor about the best course of action, which may be inpatient care.
It is particularly important that you be honest with all of your doctors to assure that what your oral surgeon does will not impact your heart. At Capital Oral & Facial Surgery, we take a thorough health history and are well prepared to handle emergency situations that may arise during oral surgery and other procedures.