When you visit your dentist for the very first time and are asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding any pre-existing conditions you have or whether you’re taking any medications, the dentist isn’t simply being curious- she’s trying to keep you safe, healthy, and out of harm’s way.
Certain procedures or aspects of treatment, such as local anaesthetic, can cause problems for those with heart conditions due to the active ingredients in the anaesthetic. Medications can also interact with other prescribed medications.
For these reasons, it is highly recommended that you answer your dentist’s questionnaire fully: the more your dentist knows about your medical history, the more she can protect you. Once she is aware of any condition you have, she can then find suitable alternative ways to treat you, preventing any complications or side effects that could arise from her typical course of treatment.
Local anaesthetic, for example, has been commonly used during a variety of dental procedures since its development nearly 200 years ago. This pain management agent is injected into the area or areas of the mouth to prevent any localized pain that could occur from the procedure.
If you have a heart condition, however, you may be at risk for complications if you receive local aesthetic. Local anaesthetic, commonly called Lidocaine, which is the modern replacement for Novocane, contains vasoconstrictors. These vasoconstrictors affect heart rate, stroke volume and blood pressure. In otherwise healthy patients, these vasoconstrictors have little or no systemic effect apart from their intended effect of numbing the oral area from pain, but if you have any condition that affects the heart, you may experience an interaction that could jeopardize your health. In such a case, the dentist will discuss alternate treatment options with you before beginning any course of treatment.
Further, if you have recently experienced a heart attack or stroke, disclosing this is imperative as any elective dental care such as cleanings, fillings, gum surgery, or other more invasive procedures such as root canal treatment, should be postponed and then undertaken at a later date under advisement of both the dentist and your primary care physician.
Unstable angina may require that you have additional physician care present during your treatments in case of emergency. In this situation, depending on your exact situation and the severity of the angina, your dentist may confer with your physician to determine whether it is safe to proceed with the treatment as planned or delay it until a later time. If dental treatment is necessary and you’re able to undergo the procedure, the dentist may in this case arrange with your doctor to see you in a medical facility where you can be safely attended by additional medical personnel.
Lastly, detailing for the dentist any medications you’re taking can prevent unpleasant side effects, inefficacy, and even death. Medicines commonly interact, and listing those you’re taking allows the dentist to prescribe only those that are safe to take in combination with those you’re currently taking.
In all cases, your dentist is trained to help you if anything unexpected were to happen during your treatment, but every necessary precaution should be taken to ensure your safety and wellness. Preventing interaction and complication from medications or local anaesthetic is entirely possible.
Revealing your full medical history to your dentist is in your best interests of staying safe and healthy. Medicines commonly interact, but if your dentist is aware of everything you’re taking, she can prescribe only those medications that are safe to take in conjunction with those you’re already taking. Should you have heart disease or any heart condition, rather than administer local anaesthetic, your dentist will recommend alternative treatment options and will ensure your health and wellness by working closely with your primary care physician.
Receiving the dental care you need is always an option. Being upfront with your dentist will enable her to help you find the best- and safest- way to have healthy, clean teeth, and to keep them for a lifetime.