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Cardiac pacemakers are devices implanted in people with damaged heart muscles. These devices are sensitive to electromagnetic signals, including some devices used during dental procedures. Although the use of new generation pacemakers with better characteristics and protection than those used in the past is becoming more frequent, preventive measures must still be taken to maintain their safety in the dental office.
Currently, the use of pacemakers and other implanted devices have become a therapeutic modality widely used in the treatment of people with heart failure and other pathologies that lead to heart malfunction, as these devices will help correct, for example, electrical abnormalities in people with irregular heart rhythms.
It is known that dental health is an important factor in the development of certain diseases and can even be a risk factor in people with systemic diseases if they’re not in good health. For this reason, dental health care is on the rise because according to the American Academy of Periodontology there is a close relationship between oral health and cardiovascular disease. Now more and more people with heart disease and pacemaker devices are coming to our dentists in Oxnard, Santa Paula, Ventura, and Port Hueneme for dental treatment.
PACEMAKER PATIENTS AND DENTAL PRACTICE
Throughout time, technology has developed rapidly, affording dentistry the ability to implement countless instruments and devices that facilitate the dental consultation and make it a more pleasant and bearable situation for the dentist and, above all, for the patients. However, in addition to facilitating treatments, it should be taken into consideration that many devices could affect or alter the normal functioning of a cardiac pacemaker.
This makes it vitally important to ask your dentist about any previous surgery or cardiac problems. You can tell him/her that you have a cardiac pacemaker so he can take the necessary measures to make your dental appointment a smooth and unpleasant experience.
DENTAL EQUIPMENT AND PACEMAKERS
Below we will identify the most commonly used dental equipment that could negatively interfere with pacemaker activity and provide some guidelines for safe dental practice.
Ultrasonic scaler: This equipment is used in dental practice to perform complicated cleanings due to the presence of calculus located under the gums that is difficult to remove. The American Academy of Periodontology recommends avoiding the use of magnetostrictive ultrasonic scalers in patients with cardiac pacemakers, as they may produce harmful effects on the patient’s cardiac health. Your dentist will probably recommend performing the procedure manually, which takes longer and involves more time and effort, but it will ensure that your health remains intact.
Electrosurgical units: It has been reported that the use of this equipment can cause interference with the normal activity of pacemakers, so it is suggested to avoid their use. They are generally used to facilitate the dentist’s work by avoiding bleeding when making a small cut; but this is completely manageable with other techniques.
Light curing unit: there is evidence that this equipment, which generates light to harden some materials in the dental office, may alter the functioning of pacemakers. Your dentist will evaluate the use of materials with other types of activation.
PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES IN THE DENTAL OFFICE AND AT HOME
Patients with cardiac pacemakers are not only at increased risk for bleeding and infection in the dental office, but they are also prone to electromagnetic interference generated by dental devices. Therefore, dental professionals should consider the following precautions when treating patients with cardiac pacemakers:
- Information: It is important to cardiac device wearer to know vital data such as the device manufacturer, model, serial number, implantation date, and mode of operation of their pacemaker and make the data known to your dentist.
- Interconsultation: Surely your dentist will ask for an interconsultation with your cardiologist so he/she can inform the specialist of the procedures to be performed, in addition to requesting any special recommendations for the treatment to be successful.
- Instruments: For oral prophylaxis, your dentist may prefer to use manual instruments, although piezoelectric scalers are documented as safe, as long as they are standardized equipment.
- Protection: Your dentist may cover your pacemaker with a lead apron that will offer protection against electrical signals and thus prevent possible interference.
- Hygiene: According to the American Academy of Periodontology, it is advised that dental hygiene only be performed with manual toothbrushes. If for any reason you use battery-operated toothbrushes, maintain a distance of at least 15 centimeters between the battery charging unit and the implanted device and a distance of more than 2 centimeters between the toothbrush and the implanted device.
If you have any questions about this topic or any other, please feel free to contact or visit us at Channel Island Family Dental. As well as on our Facebook page. At Channel Island Family Dental, we are always attentive to your needs to make a timely diagnosis. In addition, our dentists in Oxnard, Santa Paula, Newbury Park Ventura, and Port Hueneme will guide you to the best treatment to give you back your best smile.
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