If you’ve ever had to prepare for a planned surgery, your doctor may have asked you to see your dentist first to get a Dental Clearance Letter to ensure that your teeth are in good condition before the day of the surgery. But why?
Elective surgery is a surgery that is scheduled days in advance – as opposed to an emergency surgery. Depending on your situation, you may be administered general anesthesia orally before the procedure. If you have any fractures or other dental issues, then complications may occur.
An anesthesiologist assigned to your case will meet with you days before your surgery to visually inspect your mouth to look for signs of problems. Unfortunately, they do not have the knowledge and experience to assess subtle signs of infection nor will they take dental x-rays to look for deep infection in the bones. They should ask that you see your dentist immediately if there are any overt issues. Most hospitals will require a dental clearance before joint replacements, heart surgery, and radiation/chemotherapy. Some issues that may pose a problem with surgery preparation include:
- Tooth decay, abscessed tooth, or cavities
- Infection or gum disease
- Bleeding or swollen gums
- Loose teeth
- Tooth fractures or chipping
According to research from NCBI, a large number of lawsuits against anesthesiologists involve damaged teeth, so the Dental Clearance Letter protects both you and the anesthesiologist.
What’s more, there are many additional reasons why seeing a dentist before surgery is a good idea. One such reason is to help prevent the onset of infective endocarditis – an infection of the inner tissues of the heart. Bacteria known to cause this infection may be present in your mouth and, if left untreated, could travel through your bloodstream to the surgery site.
Your dentist will also need to know what surgery is being performed and what medication you may be taking so that they can help create an oral care plan for you. Some side effects may include weakened or bleeding gums, so your dentist will want to prepare you for that.
If you need a dental check-up before your upcoming surgery, schedule with our Long Beach dental office and meet with our team today. Call us at 562-434-6414.