Can You Have Dental Work After Cataract Surgery?

Author: Richard Horgan

The answer to this question is not so much a yes or no, but rather a "when." General recovery time from cataract surgery, one of the most common and painless medical procedures performed in the U.S., is three weeks.  Many patients bounce back even sooner than that.

For all those patients who do not encounter complications or a longer than usual recovery time, having dental work done three weeks or more after the date of cataract surgery is entirely acceptable. To be on the safe side, some patients may want to add a few extra weeks in between the two head region treatments. Ironically, many cataract surgery patients are surprised to discover that the operation is less involved than a trip to the dentist.

Dental Epiphany

There is actually another,  much more critical connection between the modern process used for cataract surgery and time spent in the dentist's chair. In 2004, Dr. Charles D. Kelman received a Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award for a process called phacoemulsification. It is the most commonly performed outpatient surgical procedure in the western world and involves a small incision being made into the cataract(s) area.

The idea for this process actually came to Kelman a full four decades earlier. As he recounts, he was at the dentist's office for a teeth cleaning and while in the chair, he watched as the doctor turned on an electrical implement and applied it to his teeth. The ensuing vibration and high-pitched sound were new to Kelman, who inquired about the instrument and found out that it was an ultrasonic probe. At the very moment, he realized that a similar tool should be used for the correction of cataract problems.

Many Awards

The 2004 citation mentioned above is but one of many awards received by Kelman for his work. He was also voted "Ophthalmologist of the Century" by his peers in 1994 and received the National Medal of Technology in 1992 from President George H. Bush. All, in a sense, because of that fortuitous moment in the dentist's chair.


Works Cited
Cataract Surgery

Nature Medicine
How a Jolt and a Bolt in a Dentist's Chair Revolutionized Cataract Surgery

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"Can You Have Dental Work After Cataract Surgery?." Sophisticated Edge. N.p., n.d. Web. . <>.  

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