“Is it really necessary for me to share my medical history with you, my dentist?” This is a question I am sometimes asked by my patients. While I can appreciate and understand their question, my answer is always emphatically, “Yes!” I explain to them that more and more research shows that many diseases and conditions can have a really significant impact on your mouth and teeth and vice versa. For example, diabetes can increase a person’s risk of periodontal (gum) disease.
At your first visit, we ask you to complete a thorough medical history as part of a patient registration. Some items on the history may refer to recent surgeries, heart health, pacemakers, allergies and pregnancy. You are asked to list any medications you are currently taking, including prescriptions as well as supplements. Some medications can cause dry mouth, which can also increase the risk of cavities. I want to be sure any medications I prescribe do not interact with any you are already taking. The medical questionnaire might also include questions regarding your lifestyle such as smoking or participation in high-risk sports, as well as your family medical history. Your complete medical history, combined with your initial dental exam, will help us determine your dental-care needs and recommend the best course of treatment.
All of my adult patients are asked to complete their own medical histories and children must have a parent or guardian complete their history. The information should then be updated annually or whenever you, the patient, have any major changes in your health. All of your medical history and any information regarding diagnosis, treatment or office visits is kept completely private and not shared without your consent. We ask you to sign a release form so that we can provide information to your insurance company for health insurance benefits.
Research continues to emerge that further indicates the ways in which your oral health is related to your overall health. Essentially, providing your dentist with a complete medical history keeps you safe and allows me the tools to taylor the best possible dental care for you.