Interference between dental electrical devices and pacemakers or defibrillators: Results from a prospective clinical study

Claude S. Elayi, Stephanie Lusher, Jillian L. Meeks Nyquist, Yousef Darrat, Gustavo X. Morales, Craig S. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: The authors aimed to determine whether electrical dental devices would interfere with the function of cardiac pacemakers or implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) in humans.Methods: The authors exposed asymptomatic nonpacemakerdependent patients to commonly used electrical dental equipment (for example, battery-operated curing lights, ultrasonic baths, ultrasonic scalers, electric pulp testers, and electric toothbrushes) in an outpatient cardiology clinic. The authors operated dental devices at various distances and programmed cardiac devices to sense and pace. The authors obtained cardiac tracings using a cardiac programming unit and a cardiac provider who noted any interference interpreted the results in real time.Results: The authors enrolled 32 consecutive patients and tested 12 pacemakers and 20 ICDs. They did not observe any significant clinical interference in sensing and pacing functions in any patient; however, they noted minor interference without clinical impact in the telemetry from the cardiac programming unit during use of the ultrasonic scaler and bath.Conclusions: The findings of this prospective study suggest that electrical devices commonly used in dental practices do not interfere with the sensing and pacing of contemporary cardiac patients' pacemakers or ICDs. However, they do interfere with the telemetry from the cardiac programming unit, without any clinical impact on patient safety. These findings should help in the development of clinical guidelines regarding dental management of patients with pacemakers or ICDs.Practical Implications: Electrical dental devices (for example, ultrasonic baths, ultrasonic scalers) induced minor interference with programmers that interrogate cardiac devices implanted in patients; however, overall, dental devices do not appear to interfere with pacemakers' and defibrillators' pacing and sensing function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-128
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Artificial
  • Defibrillators
  • Dental equipment
  • Electromagnetic fields
  • Equipment safety
  • Humans
  • Implantable
  • Pacemaker
  • Telemetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry (all)


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