Your health status and dental treatment

Do you know your health status is important? When it comes to your medical history, how many of you tell your dentist everything? Why does the dentist need to know about your previous hospitalizations, medications, allergies and other personal medical problems? After all, having a simple dental cleaning or a filling is not a big deal, right? The answer may not be as simple as you think.

Most dental treatments are quite uneventful. However, sometimes your health condition can influence the way your dental treatment needs to be provided, and it requires your dentist to make certain changes to help avoid potential problems. What might seem like a small thing could be really important. Your dentist wants to provide the best possible treatment for you, as safely as possible.

Many health conditions, ranging from heart problems to allergies, even certain medications, can affect the way your dentist needs to approach your care.

Here are a few examples.

  •  In the case where dental procedures planned might involve bleeding, your dentist wants to know whether your blood will clot normally. Blood clotting can be affected by many conditions, such as liver disease. Medications, including aspirin and even some herbal preparations, can also interfere with normal blood clotting. If no precaution measures are taken, the non-stop bleeding can be life threatening.
  • Medical history like asthma can be triggered by stressful environment in the dental clinic. And this is life threatening as well.
  •  Your dentist relies on your healthy immune system to help fight infections. Some conditions like diabetes and some medications like steroids, reduce the effectiveness of your immune system. If you failed to inform your dentist about it, this will lead to infection after the surgery or tooth extraction.
  • Many patients need to take preventive antibiotics before certain dental procedures are performed. For example, some patients with an artificial heart valve, or an artificial hip or knee, may need to take an antibiotic prior to certain treatments to help prevent a serious infection from occurring.
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From the examples above, it is very clear how important it is for your dentist to understand as much as possible about your past and current health condition. It also means that it is important for your dentist to take an initial complete medical history, and to keep it up-to-date by checking with you on a regular basis. Do not be shy or keep your health status as secret, your dentist wouldn’t know if you don’t tell, and this “secret” you keep is dangerous.

All the information on your medical history questionnaire should be kept strictly private, and is protected by doctor-patient confidentiality. It will not be shared with anyone outside your dentist’s office without your permission. Sometimes your dentist may wish to speak with your family doctor or medical specialist to gain more details about your medical situation. If your dentist needs to consult with your doctor or another health-care provider, this will be discussed with you first.

As you can see, your medical health and your dental health are closely linked. You and your dentist are partners, working together to provide you with the best possible dental care. That is why it is so important to carefully and thoroughly answer all the questions on the medical history questionnaire. Each question is there for a reason. If you do not understand any question, or you are not sure about the answer to any question, just ask your dentist.

Most of the medical complication that occurs in the dental clinic are preventable if your dentist know your health status, and take precaution accordingly during the treatment or refer you to hospital for the procedures that might be dangerous to be done in clinic.