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Blood Thinners (Warfarin)
A ‘Blood thinner’ is the common name used for medications that prevent the formation of blood clots. Blood-thinners do not really thin the blood. They prevent it from clotting. They are given to people with an increased tendency for thrombosis (blood clot formation) inside blood vessels or to prevent the formation of further clots in those who have had them before.
Since the 1980s, aspirin has been used as a preventive treatment for heart attacks and strokes. Aspirin has an anti-clotting effect and is used in long-term, low doses to prevent heart attacks, strokes and blood clot formation in people at high risk for developing blood clots.
Generally, warfarin is used to treat patients with atrial fibrillation [the heart’s two upper chambers fibrillate or beat out of normal rhythm], deep venous thrombosis [clotting in the deep leg veins] and pulmonary embolism [blood clots moving into the lungs]. Warfarin is also routinely given to patients who have artificial heart valves. Warfarin can cause serious bleeding. To avoid this, people who take this medication must have routine blood testing to monitor their INR, or International Normalized Ratio. This is an international measure of clotting.
Heparin is used in the hospital intravenously in order to prevent blood clot formation, and to enhance the body’s ability to break down existing blood clots. Heparin works immediately at the site used to prevent clotting.
Dental Treatment for Patients on Blood Thinners
Blood thinners do not affect most dental procedures. However, blood thinners can have an effect on blood clotting during dental surgery. Depending on the medication, the dosage and the extent of dental surgery, bleeding can be a concern.
The low level of aspirin use for blood thinning is rarely a concern. Warfarin use presents the most common potential bleeding problems that dentists encounter.
Patients on Warfarin and surgical dental treatment
In the past, dentists used to advise their patients to stop taking Warfarin a few days before having their teeth extracted or having other surgical procedures in the mouth.
The advice today is Warfarin should not be stopped for most dental procedures including most extractions and implant placements. But with any dental surgery, a consultation with the patient’s physician and a recent INR blood test should be reviewed.
The Beacon Consultants Clinic has a specific Warfarin clinic so this can be arranged on-site for the same day as your dental appointment.
Beacon Dental Clinic, Beacon Consultants Clinic, Dublin 18, Ireland
Tel: +353 1 213 5644 | Fax: +353 1 213 5645 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org