Dental surgery in anticoagulated patients

Arch Intern Med. 1998 Aug;158(15):1610-6. doi: 10.1001/archinte.158.15.1610.


Continuous oral anticoagulant therapy has been used to decrease the risk of thromboembolism for more than half a century, prolonging the lives of thousands of patients. Many physicians recommend interrupting continuous anticoagulant therapy for dental surgery to prevent hemorrhage. In reviewing the available literature, there are no well-documented cases of serious bleeding problems from dental surgery in patients receiving therapeutic levels of continuous warfarin sodium therapy, but there were several documented cases of serious embolic complications in patients whose warfarin therapy was withdrawn for dental treatment. Many authorities state that dental extractions can be performed with minimal risk in patients who are at or above therapeutic levels of anticoagulation. There are sound legal reasons to continue therapeutic levels of warfarin for dental treatment. Although there is a theoretical risk of hemorrhage after dental surgery in patients who are at therapeutic levels of anticoagulation, the risk appears to be minimal, the bleeding usually can be easily treated with local measures, and this risk may be greatly outweighed by the risk of thromboembolism after withdrawal of anticoagulant therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Anticoagulants* / adverse effects
  • Anticoagulants* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Oral Surgical Procedures*
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / chemically induced
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Thromboembolism / prevention & control
  • Warfarin* / adverse effects
  • Warfarin* / therapeutic use


  • Anticoagulants
  • Warfarin