Why Providing An Accurate Health History Is Vital To Your Treatment

Why Providing An Accurate Health History Is Vital To Your Treatment

The most important thing that you will be asked to do when visiting a dental office for the first time is to fill out a medical history form. You will also be asked at your future dental appointments if you have any health changes to report. Dental professionals are sometimes faced with opposition when trying to collect this information. One common response is “what does that have to do with my teeth”? Having an accurate and up-to-date medical history is critical to providing you safe and effective dental care.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of medical conditions that can affect your dental care:

Allergies- Your dental professional will need to know if you have any allergies to medications, foods or other products. This will make sure you have a safe dental visit and that any prescriptions you may need will be safe for you to take.

Pregnancy- This is important information for your dental professional to know. Elective dental treatment may be put off until after your baby is born. Dental x-rays and fluoride treatments are usually avoided if possible.

Diabetes- To provide the best care, your dental professional will need to know if you have diabetes and how well it is controlled. Uncontrolled diabetes is linked to gum disease and delayed healing.

Asthma- Patients with asthma should bring their inhalers to their dental appointments with them in case they are needed. Those who use inhaled corticosteroids are at risk of developing oral and pharyngeal candidiasis or thrush (yeast infection of the mouth).

Uncontrolled high blood pressure- Invasive dental procedures cannot be safely performed if your blood pressure readings are greater than 180/110 mm Hg. If you have additional risk factors such as a history of heart attack, angina or diabetes, the safe limit lowers to no greater than 160/100 mm Hg.

Myocardial infarction (heart attack)- Your dental professional will need to know if you have had a heart attack in the past. If it was recent, elective dental treatment might need to be delayed.

Medications- Having an up-to-date list of your medications is important for dental professionals. An easy way to provide this is to bring the print out from your pharmacy.

medications in pill form

Common examples of medications that can affect your oral health:

  • Many medications list dry mouth as a possible side effect. Dry mouth puts you at a much higher risk of dental cavities.
  • For patients taking the anticoagulant medication Warfarin, your dental professional will need to know what your INR values are in order to treat you safely.
  • Some medications (primarily anti-convulsants, immunosuppressants and calcium channel blockers) can cause an overgrowth of gum tissue.
  • Medication used to treat osteoporosis can sometimes lead to the destruction of the jaw bone.

Mental health and/or addictions- These conditions can affect your ability to care for your teeth properly. You may be at higher risk for dental caries and gum disease. Your dental professional can work with you to try and prevent these issues.

Risk of infective endocarditis and the need for antibiotic prophylaxis- Patients with certain health conditions have to take short-term preventative antibiotics before receiving dental treatment. This used to include a broad group of people, including those with joint replacements. More current guidelines suggest that only those with a high risk of developing infective endocarditis need antibiotics. Your dental professional may have to consult with your cardiac specialist to know if preventative antibiotics are needed.

The Canadian Dental Association position on preventing infective endocarditis lists these conditions as those where antibiotics are needed:

  • Prosthetic cardiac valve or prosthetic material used for cardiac valve repair.
  • A history of infective endocarditis.
  • Certain specific, serious congenital (present from birth) heart conditions.
  • A cardiac transplant that develops a problem in a heart valve.

Many people may not want to disclose certain parts of their health history because of embarrassment or because they think it isn’t relevant to their oral health. It is important to know that your medical information is highly confidential. Your dental professional is collecting this information to make sure they can provide you with the best care possible. The information you provide is also useful to screen for previously undiagnosed conditions. If there is a suspicion of an undiagnosed medical condition, a referral can be placed to the appropriate medical professional.

If you have any questions about your medical history and your oral health, call us today!

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