Blood thinners, also known as anticoagulants, are used for a variety of medical reasons. They are principally used to prevent stroke, heart attack, thrombosis and embolism (stationary or travelling blood clots that can block blood vessels killing body tissues). Three common anticoagulants are aspirin, Coumadin® (warfin sodium) and Ticlid® (ticlopidine).
Aspirin and Ticlid work by interfering with the function of platelets, which are cells the body uses like glue to stop bleeding after injury. Coumadin works by interfering with the liver's production of vitamin K-dependent clotting factors.
As dentists, one of the things we need to be concerned about is the possibility of bleeding after certain dental procedures. Some bleeding can be expected with the removal of teeth, deep cleaning of the gums, or other minor oral surgical procedures. We also need to consider what drugs we can safely give to manage discomfort or infection.
Pain killers (which include those containing aspirin) or certain antibiotics can have adverse effects when combined with anticoagulants. It is extremely important that you inform your dentist of all the medications that you are taking, including the dosages, as well as details about your medical condition. For some dental procedures, your dentist will need to consult with your physician if there is a need for you to stop taking your anticoagulants for a few days prior to dental treatments.
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