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Dental Care for People With Heart Disease

People with heart disease have special needs when it comes to dental care. Here are some tips to consider before going to the dentist if you suffer from one of the following heart conditions.

Dental Care After Heart Attack

Wait a minimum of six months after a heart attack before undergoing any dental treatments. Tell your dentist if you are taking anticoagulants (blood-thinning drugs). These medications could result in excessive bleeding during some oral surgery procedures. Ask your dentist if oxygen and nitroglycerin are available in case a medical emergency should arise during your office visit.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Some high blood pressure drugs can cause dry mouth or alter your sense of taste. Calcium channel blockers in particular can cause the gum tissue to swell and overgrow, resulting in chewing difficulties. If you do experience gum overgrowth, your dentist will give you detailed oral hygiene instructions and may ask you to make more frequent dental visits for cleanings. In some cases, gum surgery to remove excess gum tissue, called a gingivectomy, may be needed.

If your dental procedure requires the use of anesthesia, ask your dentist if the anesthesia contains epinephrine. Epinephrine is a common additive in local anesthesia products. Use of epinephrine in some patients with high blood pressure may result in cardiovascular changes, including the rapid development of dangerously high blood pressure, angina, heart attack, and arrhythmias, and should be used with caution.

Chest Pain (Angina)

Patients with angina treated with calcium cannel blockers may experience gum overgrowth. In some cases, gum surgery may be required.

Like patients with a previous heart attack, patients with angina may want to ask their dentist if oxygen and nitroglycerin are available in case a medical emergency should arise.

While patients with stable angina (chest pain that occurs in a predictable pattern) can undergo any dental procedure, patients with unstable angina (new chest pain or unpredictable chest pain) should not undergo elective (nonessential) dental procedures, and emergency dental care should be performed in a hospital or office equipped with cardiac monitoring capability.

Stroke

If you’ve had a stroke in the past, tell your dentist if you are taking anticoagulants (blood-thinning drugs). These medications could result in excessive bleeding during some oral surgery procedures.

If your stroke has impaired your ability to produce an adequate amount of saliva, your dentist may recommend the use of artificial saliva. If your stroke has affected your face, tongue, or dominant hand and arm, your dentist may also recommend use of fluoride gels, modified brushing or flossing techniques, and strategies others can use to assist you in maintaining good oral hygiene.

Oral Health and Heart Failure

Some medications used to treat heart failure (such as diuretics, or water pills) can also cause dry mouth. Ask your dentist about dry mouth treatments, including the use of artificial saliva.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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