Why do some patients need a dental clearance prior to heart surgery?
As a dentist in practice for many years I have become very active in the community. During children’s dental health month we speak to the children at local schools, and we also participate in the local parades. For many years I served on the Board of Director for St. Joseph Academy, the all-girls school down the street from West Park Dental, and currently I lecture in their health sciences classes. At Saint Ignatius High School I am the head cross country coach and I also lecture in their science classes. I also am pleased to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, where I also serve on a number of committees.
Another way I have served the community is by being on staff at Fairview Hospital, where I keep an eye on the patients who require dental clearance before cardiac surgery. When I provide dental clearance for cardiac patients it is for a specific procedure called an aortic valve replacement.
In order to get clearance from me for the heart surgery, the patient must have a complete dental work up with x-rays, an examination, cleaning of the teeth, and elimination of any infection. The rationale for this strict protocol is that the possibility of a new heart valve becoming infected is extremely high if there is infection present in the mouth at the time of the heart surgery. It is a critical role I perform for the patient and the medical community so that the cardiologist has a great chance of that valve being successful without any postoperative infection.
Through all these activities, I feel I have a significant role in the running of our community, which is a wonderful place to live and work. We have great patients and neighbors and my relationships are very well established.
Dr. Michael E. Gallagher
West Park Dental
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