How Blood Thinning Medication Affects Dental Implants

Most dental implants are attached via what is known as a flap procedure. This involves a small incision in the gingival tissue (your gums), creating the flap in question. The flap allows your dentist to see the underlying bone, assess the height and width of its ridge, and find the best placement of the implant. The flap can then be repositioned to create the best environment to hold the implant and help it heal. Still, this is not the most appropriate procedure for everyone.

Blood Thinners

Some patients are not ideal candidates for dental implants installed using the flap procedure. Although it's common, and low risk, the degree of tissue manipulation and the degree of incisions can be too invasive for some patients, namely those with an underlying medical condition that means they have to take blood thinners. 

Blood thinners are typically prescribed for those with cardiovascular problems, such as heart disease, congenital heart defects, and those who have undergone heart valve replacement surgery. Although the flap method won't harm people who are taking prescribed blood thinners, the difficulty of clotting (which is necessary for the implant site to heal) can lead to implant failure. Does this mean that someone on blood thinners can't receive a dental implant?

The Flapless Method

While most people get dental implants using the flap method, there's also the flapless method. This is when the implant site is prepared without directly accessing the bone. A dermatological punch is used to penetrate the gingival tissue, creating the incision needed to place the implant. This is far less invasive than the traditional flap procedure, resulting in less bleeding, making it an excellent solution for those who don't qualify for the flap method. This can only be performed when the underlying bone is already in the best possible state, allowing it to hold the implant without the need for modifications. The underlying bone is generally assessed with an x-ray.

Discuss Your Condition

Any surgical procedure, however minor, can be more complicated for those with an underlying health condition that requires them to take blood thinners. Be sure to discuss your condition with your dentist to allow them to take the necessary precautions during your dental implant surgery. You should also talk to your doctor about how your medication will affect you during the procedure, and while you heal. They might wish to implement a few changes to your medication and dosage, but this depends on your particular circumstances.

In short, just because you're on blood thinners, it doesn't mean that you can't receive a dental implant. However, it does mean that a more specialized approach and method will be needed.