Patients with Heart Conditions:Why Your Dentist Needs to know

Why It’s Important

Routine dental procedures, such as a cleaning, can cause bleeding in the mouth. As a result, oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and possibly travel to the heart. For a patient with a heart condition,  this bacteria poses a potentially dangerous risk of endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valves or tissue). Because of this, antibiotics are recommended for some patients prior to any dental visit, including routine cleanings.

Overall, all patients should communicate any medications they are taking for their heart condition, such as anticoagulants or blood-thinning medications. Also, any patients who have suffered a heart attack in the last six months, should postpone dental treatment. Patients with stable angina (regularly occurring chest pain) should consult with their dentist before treatment, but those with unstable angina (irregularly occurring) are usually advised to not undergo non-essential dental procedures. Emergency dental care should be performed either in a hospital setting or an office with cardiac monitoring capabilities.

Other things to keep in mind to protect your heart health before visiting the dentist:

-Learn what your dentist can do in the case of medical emergency and find out if there is oxygen and nitroglycerin readily available.

-Be sure your dentist has your complete medical history, including any relevant blood work and contact information for your other healthcare providers.

-Always be sure to let your dentist know if you have any health concerns. Your continued good health depends on it!