Pacemaker / Defibrillators and the dental appointment

Dentistry and Cardiac Devices: Is there an interference?

Individuals with abnormal sequences in their electrical impulses, also known as arrhythmia, could have medical devices, such as Cardiac Pacemakers and Implantable Cardioverter Defribillators (ICDs), which can help prevent future complications and or treat their heart conditions. If you currently have one of these devices or will soon be receiving one, your physician will remind you to be aware of surrounding items in your environment that might cause interference with it.

According to the American Heart Association, an item as simple as a pair of headphones can cause interference with defibrillators and pacemakers due to a magnetic substance they contain. The interference is dependent on their distance to the medical device. Being conscious of your surroundings, you might have wondered whether electrical dental devices could cause any interference.

Several studies have suggested select dental devices may cause interference with pacemakers and ICDs. Thus, dentists have been cautioned to avoid these dental devices. However, many of these studies were conducted in vitro, in laboratory settings, which are not necessarily the same conditions as in the clinic or operatory. The authors of a recently published study aimed to demonstrate that dental devices do not interfere with pacemakers’ and defribillators’ pacing and sensing function.

Perhaps, you may be wondering what these electrical dental devices include? Some of the more commonly used electrical dental equipment in our office include the battery operated curing light (used in many restorative procedures), ultrasonic bath (for sterilization of our instruments), cavitron (used during dental cleanings), amalgamator, and hand pieces. Investigators in the study operated these devices at various distances of the cardiac devices on 32 patients, making this one of the largest in vivo study to investigate these effects. These participants ranged in ages from 18 to 90 years of age. It is significant that there was not a single major interaction among them. After testing pacemakers and ICD units, it was concluded that “…dental devices presented minor electromagnetic interference with programmers that interrogate cardiac devices implanted in patients. Those interactions are not typically observed in a dental setting because cardiac devices wouldneverbe interrogated there, and the observed interactions were not associated with significant clinical implications.”

Although the study noted interference with the telemetry from the cardiac programming unit, there is “no clinical impact on patient safety.” If you’ve ever been concerned about how items in our office may affect devices used for your heart conditions, we hope this information reassures you that dental devices have posed and continue to pose very little threat to you. We hope future studies are conducted to provide even greater validity, not only for dental professionals but for our patients. Continue visiting your dentist without worries! If you have any questions or have a dental emergency don't hesitate to call Dr. Gottlieb at the Levittown office.


Interference between dental electrical devices and pacemakers or defibrillators

Electromagnetic interference of electrical dental equipment with Cardiac pacemakers (2007):

Written by: Katherine Ynsinare
 Dr. Marc Gottlieb's Levittown Dental Assistant

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Dr. Marc Gottlieb is one of Long Island's leading dental practicioners, specializing in helping those who feel anxiety or apprehension when visiting the dentist. He can be reached at