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What if I have a heart attack during a dental procedure?

If you experience chest pain during your dental procedure, the dentist should stop the procedure, call 911, and immediately give you oxygen. Nitroglycerin might also be used to help open up your blood vessels and improve blood flow to the heart muscle. The dentist should always call 911 because the goal is to get you to a hospital. Although you cannot be completely treated by your dentist, the dentist can help before additional assistance arrives.

Dentists usually have certain equipment and medications on-hand in case of a heart attack or other some other event:
  • Oxygen, oxygen masks, and nasal cannulas can help with breathing.
  • Epinephrine (synthetic adrenaline) is used for allergic reactions, helping you to breathe better and helping to stop bleeding.
  • Diphenhydramine, also known as Benadryl, can help with allergic reactions.
  • Nitroglycerin can help relieve chest pain by relaxing blood vessels and encouraging blood flow.
  • Glucose can help people with diabetes in the case of a glucose emergency.
  • Aspirin can prevent further damage if a heart attack during the dental emergency is suspected.
  • Emergency pain medication such as morphine is usually only used in the case of a suspected heart attack or severe chest pain.
  • Anesthetics such as lidocaine or bupivacaine, or even nitrous oxide gas, are used for sedation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.