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.
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.