A few years ago, I realized that I was thinking about dental care all wrong. Instead of listening carefully to my dentist and making the necessary changes, I assumed that he was ultimately responsible for making sure that my teeth stayed healthy. Unfortunately, I developed a few serious cavities because I failed to properly brush and floss my teeth, and I knew that it was my fault. I decided to start taking notes at my dental checkups and carefully abiding by the dentist's orders. The difference was almost miraculous. This blog is all about working with your dentist to improve your result.
To some patients, having to complete a medical history form at the dental clinic may seem a bit invasive. Yet it's important for this practitioner to know about current and previous health problems, since some of them may have relevancy for your dental care. Dentists also need to know about any medications you currently take.
Aspects About Which Your Dentist Needs Information
You may not be aware of the effects a health disorder or procedure could potentially have on your teeth, gums and other oral structures. That's why it's important to tell the dentist about any conditions you have. The dentist can be more effective at helping you maintain excellent oral health if you provide full details about your medical history.
For instance, a patient with Type 2 diabetes is at increased risk of gum disease. Some patients may not realize this. With guidance from the dentist, this individual may feel more motivated to take preventive actions such as brushing and flossing regularly. In addition, healing after a tooth extraction can take longer for a person with diabetes. This is important for both the dentist and the patient to know.
A patient with an autoimmune condition may develop symptoms in the mouth that are entirely due to that health problem and not due to specific issues with the gums or other soft tissues. It's vital for the dentist to know the underlying cause of these symptoms.
Patients who have had a joint replaced within the past few years are at risk of the replacement failing when certain types of bacteria are released into the bloodstream. That may occur when tartar is removed from the teeth or when a tooth is extracted.
These are just three examples indicating why you need to provide a complete medical history.
Medications You Take
List all the medications you use. This helps the dentist understand the reason for certain dental problems and also helps the practitioner provide you with specific preventive measures. In addition, some drugs can have negative effects for patients undergoing certain dental procedures.
For example, certain medications cause the mouth to be drier than normal. If you're dealing with this problem, a dentist can help you with strategies to replenish moisture. Saliva substitutes and prescription products to stimulate saliva production are possibilities. It's important to maintain moisture in the mouth because chronic dryness is a risk factor for cavities and gum disease.
A dentist also needs to know whether you take medications with blood-thinning effects so the hygienist and the dentist can take necessary steps to prevent excessive bleeding. Another example is bisphosphonate medication, which has been connected with jawbone deterioration, especially after oral surgery or removal of a tooth. This complication is very rare, but still a possibility the dentist wants to be aware of.
The dentist wants to know about aspects of your lifestyle that could affect your teeth and gums. For instance, you should mention if you regularly play in sports that could cause an impact to your mouth.
Smokers or people who chew tobacco may not want to admit they have this habit, but they should do so. The dentist will know anyway because of the effects on the teeth and gums. If patients haven't included this detail on the medical history form, the dentist is left to wonder what other pertinent information they may not have disclosed.
Knowing a patient's full medical history and relevant details about lifestyle allows dentists to evaluate the patient's oral health, make recommendations, and determine the best course of action for preventive care and treatment.
As with other health service providers, dentists are required to keep your information confidential unless you give permission for them to disclose it. Be forthcoming about your medical history when you're at the clinic so you can be assured of the best possible care from a dentist.