Heading to the dentist's office with a heart-related issue? It's important to tell your dentist about it! Your
mouth and heart are linked in more ways than you might expect – and failing to inform him or her about cardiovascular problems could spell serious trouble. For your health and safety, be sure to let your dentist know if any of the below heart conditions apply to you.
1. Born or Developed Heart Ailments
Any heart ailment – whether past or present – should be discussed with your dentist. Many heart conditions, especially those involving the valves, come with a higher risk for a heart infection, or endocarditis. To prevent harmful oral bacteria from entering the bloodstream, your dentist may find it necessary to place you on antibiotics prior to treatment.
2. High Blood Pressure
Hypertension may cause faintness in the dentist's chair and also exclude you from certain procedures. To ensure that dental work isn't causing any negative effects, your dentist may monitor your blood pressure before and during treatment. In addition, he or she will check for excess gum growth, dry mouth and taste loss – all common side effects of blood pressure medication.
3. High Cholesterol
Similar to hypertension, high cholesterol can also cause light-headedness after being seated in a reclined position. If your dentist is aware of this, he or she can make adjustments to minimize your discomfort. Your treatment plan may also be altered to avoid complications between your cholesterol medication and any medicine your dentist prescribes.
4. Heart Attack
All dental work must be held off for six months after a heart attack, and future treatment will require your dentist to consult with your physician. Because anti-coagulants, a common medication for those who have suffered a heart attack, can prevent blood from clotting, certain procedures or surgeries may require you to stop using the medicine beforehand.
Often characterized as intense pain in the chest, attacks can be triggered both by dental anxiety and certain dental procedures. Your dentist may call for nitroglycerin and oxygen during treatment, as well as blood pressure monitoring. If you take calcium channel blockers to combat angina, he or she may also advise more frequent checkups to monitor for gum overgrowth.
Blood thinners are often used by stroke survivors, and may interfere with dental procedures. Blood work and a consultation with the physician will be necessary before undergoing any treatment. Because paralysis is a common outcome of a stroke, the dentist may also recommend more frequent visits and different dental products and techniques to maintain proper hygiene.
7. Use of a Pacemaker
Dental work should be avoided for a few weeks after implantation of a pacemaker. Afterwards, treatment can proceed, but it is critical to check with the doctor and even the pacemaker manufacturer for any potential electromagnetic interference that could be caused by common dental devices.
8. Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
In minor cases, CHF patients may experience dry mouth due to their heart medications, and your dentist may prescribe an oral rinse and suggest certain habit modifications to combat the problem. In severe cases, CHF patients may experience serious complications if seated in a reclined position. Depending on the severity of the condition, it may be necessary for dental work to be completed in a hospital setting.
9. Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)
While CABG may not have oral health implications, and antibiotics are usually not necessary before dental work is conducted, severe pain due to this surgery may be experienced when seated in a reclined position. Unless it is an emergency, wait six months before proceeding with any serious dental treatment.
Preventative Care is Paramount
Heart conditions – even those that have been corrected – can have a lasting impact on dental care, so stepping up efforts to prevent dental problems from happening in the first place is even more critical to maintaining good oral health. Consult with your dentist about necessary changes both to your checkup schedule and at-home routine to help keep dental issues at bay.