Background. Valvular heart disease predisposing to endocarditis and requiring prosthetic valve implantation is common among the elderly. Spontaneous bacteremias associated with acute or chronic oral/odontogenic infections may represent a far greater cumulative risk for the development of endocarditis than do occasional health care procedures administered in a professional setting. Methods. To determine the oral disease burden in patients undergoing mechanical or bioprosthetic heart valve implantation, we performed a comprehensive clinical and radiographic regional examination on 156 consecutive patients, with emphasis on identifying acute and chronic oral/odontogenic infections and conditions. Results. The mean number of remaining teeth in the cohort was 19.32: of these, 1.07 were carious, involving a mean number of 2.51 tooth surfaces. In addition, 15.38% of the patients had evidence of acute or chronic periapical abscesses, and 43.6% of the patients had moderate to advanced periodontitis. Conclusions. In view of the substantial morbidity and mortality associated with prosthetic valve endocarditis and based upon the high incidence of dental disease identified in patients undergoing valvular operations, routine preoperative dental assessment should be deemed a 'medical necessity' by third-party payors. Appropriate therapeutic intervention should be initiated whenever possible before valve implantation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine