Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Member Question - Blood Thinners And My Dental Procedure?

Member's Question:
“I am in my 70's and I have been on blood thinners for a few years now.  I have been going to the same dentist for quite sometime and have only needed cleanings and minor fillings.  The last time I went in, he decided that I needed to have a tooth extracted but would not do it at this visit because of the blood thinners.  If they can do all of the other work, why can't they just pull the tooth?”

Savon's Answer:
You are taking blood thinning drugs (antiplatelet or anticoagulant) to maintain the consistency of blood and prevent blood clotting.  These make the blood thin enough to flow through fine vessels and this reduced consistency can be dangerous in case of deep wounds or surgeries.

For dental procedures that do not involve cutting — like fillings, whitening, or cleaning — it is relatively safer for you to continue using blood thinners than to give up the medication completely.  That’s because, there are a number of local measures (like using gauze) which can be applied to control bleeding.

Sometimes, patients using blood thinners need major dental surgery or procedure like implantation, extraction, or root canal.  As always, the benefits and potential risks of stopping the blood thinners must be analyzed and weighed.  Dentists might require conducting a series of blood tests to determine the consistency of the blood, and prescribe some pre-treatment medication to the patient.

Although it is very rare in dentistry to cause critical or life threatening complexities, it is important to inform the dentist about blood thinners before going for a dental procedure.  Not only about anticoagulant medications, but you should also discuss with the dentists about every medicine you are taking.  While people using anticoagulant medications can have dental work, dentists recommend patients to share their health record with them.

(the content of this blog was originally posted in our December 2015 newsletter in the article "Here's Your Answer")

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