You and Your Dentist
Plan on getting a tooth pulled out before going in for heart surgery? Well, it may be a good idea to wait to have that infected tooth removed, recent studies suggest.
The relationship between oral health and cardiovascular health is well known. Patients with poor oral health are at a higher risk of having bacteria in the bloodstream which can cause infections in the heart valve. That is why preventive antibiotics are prescribed to patients with certain cardiac issues before they have dental procedures which can introduce harmful bacteria into the bloodstream.
Surgeons may recommend dental care before heart valve surgery and other kinds of cardiac surgery, such as coronary artery bypass procedures and heart transplants. In fact, infected tooth extractions are commonly done ahead of some types of heart surgery to lower the chances of infection during the procedure or avoid inflammation of the inner layer of the heart after the operation.
But the combination can be dangerous.
In a small study, Mayo Clinic researchers found that a higher than expected number of heart patients who did not wait to have teeth pulled suffered major adverse health outcomes, such as a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure or death.
Before this study, guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association labeled dental extraction as a minor procedure resulting less than 1 percent experiencing a serious adverse outcome. This new study shows that number to be higher- 8 percent adverse outcomes.
This retrospective study, however, didn't pinpoint what risks might be posed by postponing major dental care until after heart surgery, nor did it prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
" If a tooth is painful and obviously infected, it must be dealt with," says study co-author Dr. Kendra Grim. But if the extraction can wait, then it may be better to wait until after heart surgery. This study only serves as a departure from current thinking. Further research is required before recommendations and practices are officially changed.
Lauren Higgs, RDH graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene in 1992 from Old Dominion University in Norfolk,
Virginia, She currently practices dental hygiene at Easy Dental Care located upstairs in the Teachers Credit Union Plaza,
Freeport. If you have any questions, you can contact her at 352-7844. Published Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Published Tuesday, March 11, 2014