Can Lynn Use Her Water Pik After Heart Surgery?

I love a great teeth cleaning. You can ask Robyn (my wife)… She thinks I’m addicted to dental floss. That said, I was very interested to receive this question from Lynn.

Lynn writes, “I recently had open heart surgery to replace my mitral valve with a bovine valve. My cardiologist told me I could never use a water pik again. My dentist and I want to continue. What is the problem? Am I getting good advise from my cardiologist?”

Hmmmmm…. I have never received a question about water piks before. That said, I did not have a quick answer for Lynn so I did some quick Internet research. Unfortunately, I did not find anything of tremendous value besides a comment by Dr. Teig about water piks and mitral valve prolapse. (To learn more about prolapsed mitral valve, click here.)

According to Dr. Teig, “There is a wide variety of perspectives on the mitral valve prolapse disorder and the potential for developing a cardiac infection from dental treatments. Over the years, most doctors have prescribed an antibiotic in preparation for actual treatments. I have never personally heard of antibiotics for water pik. I personally would feel that antibiotics are not needed in preparation for water pik treatment unless there is preexisting infected gum tissue. If the tissue is infected, the waterpik can dislodge the bacteria and at the same time open inflamed blood vessels located at the surface of the gum tissue. This can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream [and potentially damage the valve]. I think the water pik is okay, but don’t set it very high.”

For me, that is not a conclusive statement. Plus, I tend to follow the “play it safe not sorry” approach to life. Considering all of the above, I would recommend that you ask your cardiologist to explain – in detail – why you should not use a water pik after heart surgery.

I would be very interested to hear what you learned! And, if you have any thoughts for Lynn, please leave a comment below.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.

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