When you enter a dental practice as a new patient, and every few visits after that, you’ll probably be asked to fill out a medical history. It usually has the standard questions: what medications are you taking, do you have any of the following conditions, and so on. But so many of the items on a medical history have nothing to do with your teeth! So why is you dentist so concerned about them? Your medical history is a vital part of the puzzle when it comes to giving you the best dental care possible. And some of your health problems have way more to do with your oral health than you may think!
We want to know about your allergies! For patients with severe allergies, a reaction can become life threatening in minutes. Latex is a relatively common trigger for many patients, which is why we run a completely latex-free office here at Lake Baldwin Dental. If you have a latex allergy, you probably already know to immediately inform any medical providers before your appointment starts. The good news is that these days most doctors and dentists choose latex-free alternatives as a general rule.
However, there are many other allergies you might not realize can affect you in the dental office. For patients with Celiac disease, always let your dental team know because some dental products contain gluten. If you have an allergy to casein (a protein found in milk), that’s something we definitely need to know about! There are only a few dental products that use casein, but they are out there, and they can cause major problems for patients with a sensitivity to casein, especially kids.
Even if your allergy doesn’t seem related to what you might be exposed to in the dental chair, let us know! We’d rather be aware of your shellfish allergy, even though it shouldn’t impact you in our office. Better safe than sorry!
Most adult patients take at least one regular medication, even if it’s just a multivitamin. This is another key area of your medical history that can have a huge impact on your oral health. The most common link between your medications and your teeth is that many meds cause dry mouth. Even if the individual medications don’t cause dry mouth, patients taking more than one medication almost always have decreased saliva flow. Inadequate saliva can make you more prone to cavities, cause extra buildup on your teeth, and make your mouth feel sore or uncomfortable.
SSRIs like Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro, and Paxil are very common. This class of medications can cause you to grind and clench your teeth. Grinding and clenching can cause jaw problems, tooth sensitivity, and worn teeth. Anti-seizure medications and calcium-channel blockers can cause your gums to grow over your teeth, requiring semi-regular surgical contouring to keep them healthy. If you have asthma, your inhaler could cause acid erosion and cavities.
Some medications can make even certain dental procedures dangerous! If you’ve ever taken medication for osteoporosis, it is essential that you tell us because it could cause serious damage to your jawbone if you need an extraction, even if you’re no longer taking the medicine. Many medications can also interact with anesthetics or other drugs we may prescribe, so we need a full account to avoid any issues.
And yes, that includes recreational drugs, too! Don’t worry: your medical history, including illegal drug use, is protected information. It’s strictly between us. But many illicit drugs cause serious oral health concerns. This is especially true for anything you take by snorting it. The nasal passages are closely linked to your oral cavity, and snorting drugs like cocaine can create serious oral health problems.
Chronic health problems can affect your oral health, and vice versa. We’ve talked about some of the links between your dental health and the rest of your body before. If you have any chronic health conditions, we need to know so we can be on the lookout for issues like gum disease that could make the condition worse.
Did you know conditions like diabetes can make you more prone to cavities? Even though diabetics typically avoid sweets in their daily diet, they have more sugars in their saliva, which can lead to plaque buildup and tooth decay. Patients with high blood pressure could have trouble in the dental chair, especially with some anesthetic agents. Periodontal disease could impact overall health for patients with cardiovascular disease. Some heart problems like mitral valve prolapse may mean you need special considerations before going to your dental visits.
Much like allergies and medications, the more information we have, the better. Even if your health conditions don’t seem related to your oral health, the links could surprise you!
Pregnancy can be a tricky item on a medical history. For many pregnant patients, you don’t go public with that information until several weeks into gestation. If you’re due for x-rays at your regular check-up, we generally hold off throughout your entire pregnancy unless there is a dire emergency. Likewise, we try to avoid doing any dental work during the first and third trimesters. If you have any cavities or need a simple dental procedure, the second trimester is generally a safe time.
Also be aware the pregnancy can impact your oral health! It can cause your gums to swell and bleed, and even cause growths on the gums. They’re completely benign, and usually go away on their own after you deliver, but it can be alarming for patients who don’t know it’s normal. Nausea, vomiting, acid reflux, and starchy snacking can also lead to cavities while you’re pregnant.
Letting your dental team know you’re pregnant is a good way to stay safe, and get some key tips about preventing pregnancy-related dental problems.
Let Us Know About…
Aside from your general medical history, keep your team up to date about your general well-being at routine visits. Have you been having headaches? Waking up frequently with a stiff neck? Has your partner been complaining about your snoring? How’s your sinus been lately? Have you had any colds or stomach problems recently?
You may be surprised at how many of your regular aches, pains, and annoyances could be related to your teeth! As a general rule, the more info we have, the better. Call us today to make your next check-up appointment and update us about how you’re doing! Keep smiling and stay healthy, Orlando!