Dental Work & Heart Surgery (do yours... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation
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Dental Work & Heart Surgery (do yourself a favour and get any dental work completed before your operation!)


I had bypass surgery eight weeks ago. I had been scheduled to go to the dentist the week after the operation for a couple of fillings, but my teeth weren't hurting so I postponed the appointment until today when I was back driving and feeling better.

I knew that you should inform the dentist about recent heart surgery, but I thought that was because the dentist may decide to prescribe antibiotics.

However, the dentist said that she couldn't administer any anaesthetic for at least six months following heart surgery, so if I wanted the fillings treated she'd have to do it without an injection. Oh, and one more piece of good news, instead of two fillings it was now actually three! Her advice was grit my teeth (ho ho ho) and get on with it, as if any tooth deteriorated I might have to go back into hospital for an extraction, and in her experience that could mean a very painful delay of at least a week or sometimes much longer.

Anyhow, the fillings are done and, although I wouldn't rush to repeat the experience, I guess worse things happen at sea so I won't whinge too much!

But if anyone is planning a future trip into hospital for heart surgery, then do yourself a favour and pay a visit to the dentist first for some pre-emptive dental work. Because anything that needs to be done in the six months following your surgery will have to be done old school without any anaesthetic!

14 Replies
MichaelJHHeart Star

Well I am surprised you actually had heart surgery. Before my bypass I needed a sign off from my dentist that I was free from dental decay, loose teeth and gums disease. One person I know actually had their surgery cancelled the afternoon before. The anesthesist came to see them as part of the admittance and last minute checks procedure, took a quick look at their teeth, and cancelled the operation until two issues were addressed. Dental infections can travel to the heart!

Interesting comments, thanks for that Michael.

No there were absolutely no questions from the hospital regarding outstanding dental work, and no check of my teeth or gums. One explanation may be that after being diagnosed with mild angina I went into hospital for a routine angiogram, but against expectation the results were sufficiently alarming that I went to the top of the queue and had bypass surgery within a couple of days.

MichaelJHHeart Star
in reply to Chappychap

That's the answer! I was referred for a bypass post angiogram and needed to.pass "fitness for surgery" which included the dental sign off to get on the operating list. When I broke my femur ten years ago the only check was a few questions and a chest X-ray. Mind you my left foot was pointing left and still does slightly!

Before hubby's operation, the cardiac team wanted proof of dental check ups so that was provided. Fortunately the day before the op, he sneezed and a crown he had flew out. The question, have you any dentures of loose crowns became moot!!!

Interesting about the local anaesthetic though. Lets see what our dentist does when he has a small filling in January. Hope you're going along OK. xxx

No one said anything to me about being signed off by the dentist. I wasn't even aware that there was such a requirement. It makes sense of course where surgery is planned. In the case of us blue lighted brigade maybe the normal rules go out of the window?


I am waiting for heart surgery, and have a loose tooth that needs extraction however my dentist won't touch me due to me being on blood thinning medication, so where do i stand

Tricky one.

My dentist mentioned a similar case of pass the parcel. Someone, shortly after a heart operation, had a decayed tooth that sheared off exposing the root. The guy concerned was in quite a lot of pain, the hospital wanted his dentist to deal with it, and the dentist wanted the hospital to deal with it. Neither hospital nor dentist wanted to risk litigation if something went wrong, so they kept passing the patient between them until another hospital mercifully stepped in and said they'd take the case.

This is a pattern I'm starting to recognise in the medical world. Firstly, medical professionals have a totally different understanding of pain to us patients. Inevitable really, if you've worked on a burns unit then someone whinging about tooth ache must seem pretty trivial, no matter that the patient genuinely believes they're in agony.

Plus, given we now live in a world where people are quick to sue, and no result/no fee lawyers are happy to bring the action, it's inevitable doctors and dentist hesitate before putting their necks on the block.

I'm neither a dentist nor a doctor, but I'd be inclined to raise it with the hospital and see if they'd do the extraction.

Good luck!

My cardiologist referred me to the hospital dentist prior to my op, as they wanted to be sure that all necessary dental work was carried out before my surgery, I guess all surgeons and hospitals have different protocols x

I had my heart attack 8 weeks ago with 1 stent placed,no heart damage.Since then I have developed a problem where by I need 2 teeth extracted.I cannot get anyone to help me!!!Got a phone call earlier from my dentist to say the the earliest I can have the work done is February of next year.No idea how I am going to cope with the pain for another 6 or 7 weeks

in reply to kate1003

Have you spoken to the outpatients department at the hospital that stented you, and asked for a referral to the hospital's dental unit?

Hope this gets sorted out for you.

in reply to Chappychap

Yes,did that.Our dental Hospital only takes adult patients who have not got a dentist or adults with learning difficulties Going to contact private hospital next


I have a broken tooth which occurred last Christmas a filling fell out and as a consequence the tooth has since broken off at Gum level !! I was told wait until after you have Stents and then we will look at it again. I was referred to a Dental Surgeon who is qualified to work on difficult extractions. He looked and said he would proceed if my GP or Cardiologist agreed. My GP asked what would be the consequence of leaving it alone for now, reply was we don't know, but will monitor it should he (me) have any pain. So it's still in not causing any real problems but I have to wait until end of March when I should stop Aspirin and Clopidogrel then they will look at it again. My understanding of the Injection as long as it doesn't contain Adrenalin it should be OK to numb the gum.

I was just asked prior to CABG my Dentists name when did I see him last, and did I have any Crowns or Caps and that was it.

I had my quintiple bypass in April.the only people who saw the dentist were having new valves fitted.I had a tooth out 1 month after discharge and I was on Apixaban.No problems with dentist or

I am on a waiting list to have my Mitral Valve replaced. I have been told that the secretary has pencilled me in for 27th February. I was told a while ago by my dentist that I needed root canal treatment. Since I'd had an horrendous experience in 1986 just prior to moving to Lancashire from Scotland I passed, I didn't have any pain etc. On my next dental checkup I was again told about the root canal and because by this time I knew about my valve I said okay, she said I had an infection in my gum and my surgeon would not be happy if it spread after a heart op!! I agreed and she started drilling. Eventually, she sat me up and I thought well that was a doddle! NO, she could not find the root, I would need to go to The nearest dental hospital for microscopic treatment, the wait for that would probably be 9 months! The other alternative was private treatment in my home town. I had to go ahead with this as I knew I couldn't wait for 9 months. the treatment cost just under £550 but what a difference to the NHS. The dentist was very nice, patient and I really wish I could afford to have private treatment all the time. I am now ready for the operation, I just have to keep myself well until the 27th I spent months in 2017/18 with one chest infection after another so I need to avoid people with coughs and colds. I genuinely didn't know anything about Quinine though. I prefer Tonic in my brandy!

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