Blood Thinners & Oral Health
Blood thinner (anticoagulant) medication reduce the natural formation of blood clots inside blood vessels. They are prescribed by GPs to patients considered to be at high risk of developing serious and life-threatening conditions such as heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
What is the relationship between blood thinners and oral health?
Blood thinner (anticoagulant) medication reduce the natural formation of blood clots inside blood vessels. They are prescribed by GPs to patients considered to be at high risk of developing serious and life-threatening conditions such as heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. The function of blood clots is to naturally seal a wound to stop it bleeding. Blood clots, however, can also block the flow of blood to organs such as the brain, heart and lungs if they form close to their locations.
The main side-effect of blood thinners and its impact on oral health is prolonged bleeding without clotting – during your oral hygiene routine at home, during dental hygienist appointments and during dental surgeries (tooth extraction, gum restoration), for example.
Common blood thinners currently prescribed (according to the NHS) include:
- Rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
- Dabigatran (Pradaxa)
- Apixaban (Eliquis)
- Edoxaban (Lixiana)
Symptoms of blood thinners affecting oral health
- Bleeding in the mouth
- Weakened gums
- Can cause tooth damage
- Severe bruising can occur
Why do you need to take blood thinner (anticoagulant) medication?
Blood thinners provide a crucial part of the preventative strategy in the long-term care of this affected group of people.
If you now take blood thinners, we would encourage you to:
- Notify your dentist and your dental hygienist as soon as you begin taking this medication
- Ensure your dental records are updated alongside your medical records with your GP
- Book in for a professional teeth cleaning appointment for a check-up. During your appointment gather all the information and advice you may need on selecting softer bristle toothbrushes and softer (satin) flossing products to minimise prolonged bleeding at home during your daily oral hygiene routine.
How do you manage blood thinners and oral health if you need dental surgery?
- You may be asked to take a blood test prior to your dental surgery being scheduled to check your bloodwork and to find out the speed at which your blood currently clots.
- During the surgery itself your dentist will be able to employ minimally invasive surgical techniques where possible to reduce prolonged bleeding risk and to stem the flow as quickly and effectively as possible should it occur. With the knowledge of the type of the anticoagulant medication you take and the dosage, such measures can be included within your bespoke care plan and discussed with you.
Please note that it is not advisable to stop taking the blood thinner (anticoagulant) medication prior to your dental surgery without the express consent of your medical professional and in consultation and with the agreement of your dental surgeon.
To discover more about how anticoagulant medication can affect your oral health and how you can protect it, just contact your expert dental team at Wimpole Street Dental Clinic, today.
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