Importance of Medical Histories

Why do I need to share my medical history with my dentist?

Your dentist will ask you for a thorough medical history, including your lifestyle activites (such as smoking and drinking alcohol). In this questionnaire you should mention everything about your health, even if you think it doesn’t relate to your mouth.

Your dentist especially needs to know about:-

  • Heart surgery
  • Heart problems
  • Heart Murmur
  • Pacemaker
  • History of Rheumatic Fever
  • Asthma
  • Epilepsy/seizures
  • Joint replacements
  • Allergies / Reactions to Anesthetics
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Blood-borne infections
  • Jaundice
  • Chorea
  • Fainting / Blackouts / Giddiness problems
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Steroid treatment
  • Problems you are currently getting treatment for
  • Smoking / Alcohol consumption
  • All medication you are taking

Many diseases and illnesses can have significant effects on your dental treatment:-

  • Blood-thinning medication (such as Warfarin, Apixiban or Aspirin) for heart problems can interfere with dental extractions, as your blood will not clot as easily.
  • If you have a pacemaker, this can interfere with hygienist visits, as the hygienist may want to use an ultra-sonic scaler, which cannot be used with a pacemaker as it causes electromagnetic interference.
  • Your dentist should be made aware to your allergies, you may be allergic to the gloves the dentist uses, certain ingredients in anesthetics or certain antibiotics that your dentist may want to prescribe for infections.
  • Diabetes and kidney disease can increase the risk of gum disease.
  • Alcohol consumptionliver disease and jaundice can also cause problems with bleeding after dental extractions or surgical procedures. Please note that drinking alcoholic beverages to excess on a regular basis can also put you at increased risk of oral cancer.
  • Blood-borne infections (such as hepatitis and HIV) can also put you at higher risk of gum disease, oral cancers, thrush and blisters.
  • Diabetes and steroid treatment can reduce effectiveness of the immune system.
  • If you are pregnant, your dentist will avoid certain anesthetics that can induce labour and will also avoid taking any x-rays unless absolutely necessary.
  • Smoking can also put you at risk of gum disease and impaired healing after any dental extractions or surgical procedures. Smoking can also put you at an increased risk of oral cancer.
  • Some medications can cause you to have a dry mouth which can increase the risk of cavities, other medication may cause the dentist to change to anesthetic you are given. If your dentist needs to prescribe an antibiotic, they will need to ensure it doesn’t interfere with any medication you are already taking.

You should update your medical history every 6 months. It is the law that your dentist has a thorough, up-to-date medical history. Each question on the health questionnaire is there for a reason. If you are not sure about a question, please ask your dentist. Your answers will always be treated in the strictest of confidence.

Your dentist can refuse to treat you if you have not given us an up-to-date medical history. You and your dentist are partners working together to achieve the best possible dental care.

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