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Talking About Your Medical History With Your Dentist

When you first visit a new dentist you will be asked to fill out some forms detailing your medical history. You may be tempted to gloss over certain conditions or medications because you can’t see how they affect your dental health or why they would be important to your dentist. Don’t.

Although it might seem like the majority of non-oral health conditions would not be important to your dentist, they are. You should inform your dentist about all existing medical conditions, treatments and medication as well as lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking, to ensure that no complications arise during dental treatment.

To help your dentist keep your teeth healthy and bright it is especially important that you detail the name and dose of each medication you take — both over-the-counter and prescription. Dry mouth is a common side effect of many drugs and can lead to tooth decay and the need for gum disease treatment if not properly addressed.

Make sure to alert your dentist if:

You are taking drugs to treat osteoporosis. The class of drugs used to treat osteoporosis (known as biphosphonates) can occasionally cause jaw problems following tooth loss or a tooth extraction.

You are diabetic. Diabetes can increase your risk of developing periodontal disease.

You become pregnant. Your dentist may suggest that you postpone certain treatments for the duration of your pregnancy.

Are taking medication to regulate blood pressure. These drugs often have oral side effects.

You are taking medication to treat a serious health condition, such as kidney, lung, heart or liver disease. These drugs can interact with other drugs and cause complications and treatment failure.

You drink alcohol regularly. Depending on what and how often you drink, you may be at an elevated risk for certain types of oral cancer.

You have allergies.

You smoke or use other tobacco products.

There are any changes in your health status or medications between dental appointments.

Regular dental visits and dental cleanings are important for maintaining your oral health. Make sure to speak with your dentist if you suspect that your medical health record is not up to date, and let them know if changes occur.

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