Healthy teeth and gums are important for reasons other than showing off your smile.
Many people who need surgery – heart valve replacement in particular – might have to delay the procedure for weeks, or even months, because of poor dental health.
A dentist must first check for and eliminate any present or potential sources of infection, including gum disease, severe tooth decay, tooth abscess or any soreness in the mouth.
Prior to heart surgery, you will need a dental clearance exam, including X-rays to help your dentist detect damage and disease not visible during a regular dental examination.
Left untreated, bacteria in the mouth can travel through the bloodstream to the surgery site, causing complications such as infective endocarditis – a potentially life-threatening infection of the inner tissues of the heart, including the heart valves.
Depending on your history, getting dental clearance for surgery may require one appointment or several trips to your dentist.