If your doctor has determined you are at special risk of stroke or heart attack, he has likely prescribed a blood thinner (anticoagulant medication). These prescription drugs are very effective at reducing risk for these conditions. However, they do come with a natural side effect of prolonged bleeding. This is of concern when it comes to having any type of surgery, including surgical dental procedures.
Blood thinners work to prevent natural clotting of the blood. This reduces the risk of blood clots forming in blood vessels that can lead to stroke or heart attack. Medications prescribed for this include:
- NSAIDS (Advil)
- Warfarin (Coumadin and generics)
- Dabigatran Etexilate (Pradaxa)
- Clopidogrel (Plavix)
If you are currently taking any of these medications, please communicate this clearly to your dentist prior to any dental procedures so that proper precautions can be taken. After recording the name and dosage of your medication, your dentist may opt to consult with your cardiologist before prescribing any dental treatment.
Can You Receive Dental Treatment While Taking Blood Thinners?
Patients will be considered for treatment on a case by case basis depending on their personal circumstances. Here are some basic guidelines that most dentists will generally consider.
If your blood thinner is only being taken on a temporary basis, then it is usually practical to delay non-essential dental procedures until the prescription is no longer needed.
If your blood thinner is being taken on a long term basis, usually the dental procedure can still proceed while you continue to take your blood thinners. We never recommend stopping your medication against doctor’s orders as this could put you at risk of stroke or heart attack. Instead, we will take additional steps to control bleeding such as with the use of gauze, hemostatic devices or minimally invasive surgical techniques.
Dental work should be scheduled early in the day and plenty of time for rest after the procedure should be allowed in order to control any bleeding.
Complex Dental Procedures
If a more invasive dental procedure is needed such as a tooth extraction or implant placement, then you, your Auburn family dentist and your cardiologist will need to carefully weigh the potential benefits and risks of temporarily adjusting your blood thinning medication. It’s possible that diagnostic blood tests may be needed to help in making a sound decision.
Most importantly, remember to clearly communicate your current prescription medications with your dentist. This is to help protect your health, and your life!
The team at Rock Creek Family Dentistry is happy to work along with you and your medical healthcare providers to ensure you receive quality dental care that is safe and effective!
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