Dental Treatment and Blood Thinners
Blood thinning drugs are taken to prevent the blood from clotting and to maintain its consistency. People from all over the world take these medicines.
Although it is taken by people from all over the world, a certain property of this medication causes concern to dentists especially for procedures which cause bleeding – that these drugs tend to interfere with the normal clotting mechanism of the body to blood flow at the site of an injury.
For a blood clot to form, there are two main processes. The first involves platelets or small blood cells which form a clump together at the site of the wound to form a plug. This plug slows down the flow of blood through the vessels and forms a matrix. The next part is coagulation. In this phase, proteins in the blood interact with one another to fill in the gaps between the platelets; this stabilizes the clot and makes it all the more solid until the bleeding reduces or stops.
Types of medication and precautions
There are two types of blood thinning medications – antiplatelet and anticoagulant.
Antiplatelet medications are taken to target the first phase of the formation of a clot. They work by preventing the platelets from sticking to one another and to the walls of the blood vessels.
Anticoagulant medications work on phase two of clotting. They work by obstructing the production or the function of proteins that stabilize the clot.
Being on any of these medications results in taking longer for any kind of bleeding to stop. This is a factor that must be taken into consideration when going through with surgical or dental procedures. It is important to inform your dentist if you are on any of these medications particularly if you have just begun taking it. Providing this information to your dentist can aid in precautionary decision making in order to prevent excessive bleeding at the time of surgeries. Sometimes the dentist will even consult with your cardiologist so as to determine the best course of action, dosage and best combination of medicines for you.
Getting prepared for a dental procedure
Most often, even for patients on blood thinners, the bleeding from a dental procedure is not difficult to control or stop. However, the effect of both clotting and the potential for bleeding varies from patient to patient. Hence, for each patient and procedure, the risk of bleeding from a dental procedure needs to be weighed against the risk of formation of blood clots due to altering the medication or discontinuing it.
Say you are using blood thinners only for a temporary period then you can put off procedures for that stretch. However, if you are on the medication for the long haul (permanent basis) and the dental procedure can’t be delayed then the bleeding needs to be controlled with the use of other medications. For a few, going off the medicine completely can lead to critical circumstances.
When simpler procedures which do not comprise cutting and are less invasive – like whitening, fillings, cleaning, etc. it is safe for the patient to continue to use blood thinners because several local measures can be enforced (like gauze) to control/stop the bleeding.
Keep in mind that your dentist will ask you to provide complete information on your medical history. Few details include – all medical conditions, the name of medications, the name of your physician/cardiologist, etc. Running some tests and consulting with your physician is also part of the process before beginning dental work.
All in all, precautions will be made before, during and after the procedure to bring down the possibility of oral bleeding.
Last updated on 13 February, 2018.