Learning About Dental Care and Your Health Problem

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How to brush the teeth

What special care may be needed before dental work?

Dental work or cleaning can cause tiny cuts in your gums. For most people this isn't a problem. But it can be serious if you have certain health conditions.

To prevent problems, tell your dentist about your health and what medicines you take.

Who needs to take special care?

Tell your dentist if you:

  • Have had your hip, knee, or shoulder replaced. An infection could spread from your mouth to the artificial joint and cause a serious problem. Your doctor may want you to you take antibiotics before and after the dental work to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Have had an organ transplant. The antirejection medicines may increase your risk of mouth infections. So it's very important to keep your gums and teeth clean and healthy.
  • Have certain heart problems. Dental work could cause an infection in your heart. Ask your doctor if you need to take antibiotics if you:
    • Have had a heart valve replaced or repaired.
    • Have had endocarditis.
    • Have had heart defects since birth.
    • Have had heart valve problems after a heart transplant.
  • Take aspirin or some other blood-thinner. These medicines prevent blood clots. The medicine may cause you to bleed more than usual.

How can you prevent problems?

  • Talk to your doctor or dentist well before your dental appointment. This will give your doctor time to prescribe any medicines you need. You might take antibiotics before certain types of dental work to prevent infection. You'll also be able to stop other medicines in time if you need to.
  • Tell your doctor if you plan to have surgery and also need major dental work. You may want to have the dental work done first.
  • Take a list of your medicines with you to the dentist. Ask them to keep a copy in your file.
  • Tell your dentist about any other major surgery you've had.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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