Your Dentist and Your Medical History

Many people visit their dentist’s office and refuse to answer questions about their medical history when asked by the Dental Hygienist. I’m not certain why. The most common responses people offer are “Nothing you need to know to clean my teeth,” or “Why are you asking me this to clean my teeth?” Dental Hygienists actually do much more than clean your teeth.

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First, your medical history, medication changes, and surgeries affect your teeth. Some conditions and medications cause dry mouth. If you are diabetic, it helps us to know that. We may then have additional questions that indicate to us that we should check for certain things while cleaning your teeth. If you have an autoimmune disease or another condition that causes inflammation, knowing your C-Reactive protein level or your Sed Rate alerts us that you are at some level of risk of developing periodontal disease.

Second, if we know your medical history, we can share helpful information with you about how to cope with the condition and minimize its effects upon your teeth.

Third, your “cleaning” is also an assessment of the condition of your teeth and gums. All of this information is shared with the dentist, who also uses it to explain issues and help you learn what you need to know about how these matters affect your oral health.

Other things that can affect your oral health, and should be shared with your dentist and your dental hygienist include:

  1. Allergies
  2. Whether you smoke, vape or use chewing tobacco
  3. Do you have any autoimmune diseases (thyroid disease, diabetes, Sjogren’s disease, lupus, Crohn’s disease or Rheumatoid Arthritis)?
  4. Do you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
  5. Do you have sleep apnea? Do you use a CPAP?
  6. Do you have an eating disorder?
  7. Do you have cancer?
  8. Were you ever exposed to chemical weapons, Agent Orange or other toxic chemicals?
  9. Do you have Lyme Disease?
  10. Do you have acid reflux? Are you taking antacids?

There are many medical issues and medications that have significant effect on oral health. The more we know about your medical history and current medical conditions, the better we can offer you the best information to help you care for your teeth and gums. We want to help you keep your teeth and prevent serious oral health issues. The more open you are with us about medical conditions the more helpful we can be.