Why You Should Share Your Medical History With Your Dentist
Routine trips to the dentist’s office are part of maintaining pristine oral and dental health and hygiene. And because we know that you’re an oral and dental hygiene aficionado, we know that you make regular trips to see your tooth doctor.
By now, you’re probably familiar with the general process. When you first arrive, a friendly receptionist with a million-dollar smile greets you and asks you to fill out a form while you wait to see your dentist. That brief questionnaire will likely contain a checklist of medical conditions for you to go through, prompt you about allergies and ask about any other changes to your medical status since your last visit.
It might seem routine and unimportant or just like busywork, but your answers to that questionnaire might contain crucial information that your dentist needs to know.
Though it’s tempting to simply skim through the form and get to that issue of Fashion magazine that caught your eye, it’s better to take your time and fill out the form completely. Your broader medical and health history could have a tremendous impact on your dental and oral health and on the treatments that your dentist recommends to you. Even something as seemingly innocuous as an adult-onset allergy could be informative and useful information for your dentist.
Suffice it to say, when it comes to your health—and making your smile as bright as it can be—there’s no such thing as an overshare.
Why Your Dentist Needs to Know
All of the medical conditions listed on the form you receive at your dentist’s office have implications for your oral and dental health and possible treatments.
Diabetes, for example, raises the amount of glucose (a.k.a. sugar) in the fluids in your mouth. That increase in oral glucose levels encourages the growth of bad bacteria that can, in turn, lead to gum disease. That’s information that your dentist will need to know to improve their ability to provide you with the appropriate dental care and advice.
Similarly, congenital heart diseases can affect the types of treatments and procedures that your dentist recommends to you. Dental surgeons, also, might adjust the medications that they administer and prescribe when performing restorative dentistry operations such as root canals.
Finally, dentists and dental hygienists have public health and safety obligations. While they won’t share your medical history without your consent, they will act accordingly with the knowledge they have. Dentists are happy to provide oral and dental care to all and have to take measures to protect the public and their staff if a patient presents with a contagious disease.
Ultimately, dentists are interested in their patients’ medical records to ensure that they are providing the best dental care possible while keeping everyone safe. After all, you can’t flash your biggest smile if you’re worried a secret will fall out.
What Your Dentist Needs to Know
There really isn’t any medical information that you can’t or shouldn’t share with your dentist. The more they know about your medical conditions, the more they can help you to improve your smile—and overall health.
Even physical injuries that seem unconnected to your oral and dental health is information that your dentist would like to know. A sprained wrist or a sore neck could affect your ability to brush your teeth and floss effectively. Your dentist can recommend a workaround so that your pearly whites don’t turn as yellow as your cast.
If you’re uncertain about your medical health status, you can always get a regular checkup with a general practitioner. And rest assured, your personal health information is safe with healthcare professionals.
Most people are familiar with the concept of doctor-patient confidentiality. But they might not know just how protected their private and personal health information really is. Here in Canada, for example, as recently as December 2000, the Ontario legislature updated and strengthened the privacy laws regarding patient information.
You can be certain that your dentist will only share your medical records if and when they have obtained your express permission. At Dawson Dental, we take our legal and professional obligations very seriously.
Comfort and Ease
Even with the protections afforded by the Personal Health Information Privacy Act 2000, some patients still do not feel comfortable sharing their medical information. Whether it’s because of internalized shame, social stigma, or fear of accepting a diagnosis, patients will sometimes withhold information.
Discussing medical health conditions can be difficult and uncomfortable but it doesn’t have to be. Not all medical health professionals have adequate communication skills to make their patients feel comfortable and put their concerns to bed. However, at Dawson Dental, we take pride in the fact that all of our dental offices are safe spaces—for your teeth and your feelings.