Never underestimate the importance of a health history. Because oral health is closely linked to overall health, dentists are better able to serve those patients who fully disclose their health histories.
Patients can help themselves by providing details of their medical history to their dentist. Current and complete health histories are vital to good dental and medical health.
A thorough health history can alert the dentist to specific concerns that may impact the delivery of their oral health care.
For example, new evidence suggests bisphosphonate medications, often used to help treat osteoporosis, Paget’s disease and breast, prostate and multiple myeloma cancer, might cause patients to develop osteonecrosis of the jaw. This is a rare but serious condition that involves severe loss or destruction of the jawbone.
Health history updates are also important for patients with prosthetic joint replacements. These patients may require extra precautions for dental care, because bacteria that cause infections in teeth or gums travel easily through the bloodstream and can settle in artificial joints.
Patients with prosthetic joint replacements need to be aware of the importance of preventive antibiotic protocol prior to dental extractions, periodontal (gum) disease procedures, dental implant placement and reimplementation of knocked out teeth. Root canals, initial placement of orthodontic bands (not brackets), dental implants, injection of local anesthetic and even regular teeth cleaning where bleeding is anticipated also require the patient to take antibiotics before the scheduled dental appointment.*
These are just a few examples of why a health history is so important for good dental care. By providing complete and accurate information about your health history, your dentist is better equipped to provide you with the best treatment possible.
Remember to update your health history each time you visit the dental office.
*Note: The American Heart Association recently revised its guidelines for use of antibiotics prior to dental treatment by patients with certain heart conditions. The latest guidelines were published in the April 2007 edition of its scientific journal Circulation and say most heart patients no longer need short-term antibiotics as a preventive measure before their dental treatment. Click here to read more.