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During your first dental visit, your dentist will ask for a thorough medical history, which typically is included on a patient registration. This section may include questions about lifestyle (such as smoking or involvement in high-risk sports) and family medical history. This history, combined with the results of your initial clinical examination, will help to assess your immediate dental-care needs and recommend the best treatment approach.
What kind of health information should I share and how specific should I be?
Mention everything about your health, even if you don't think it relates to your mouth. If you have had surgery or a major illness, be sure to include this information in the medical history of your patient information section.
Many diseases can have significant effects on your mouth and teeth, and researchers continue to discover ways in which oral health is related to overall health. Diabetes, for instance, can increase the risk of periodontal (gum) disease.
Suggested items to include on your patient registration form:
Should I tell my dentist about any medications I am taking?
Information about medications you are currently taking can be vital to your health, especially in an emergency. Some medications cause dry mouth, which can increase the risk of cavities. Other health conditions may require the dentist to change the type of anesthesia given. Your dentist also will want to make sure that any medications he or she prescribes don't interact with medications you already are taking, either prescription or over-the-counter. If you are visiting your dentist for the first time, bring along a current list of medications just to be sure your dentist has an accurate record.
How often should I update my medical history?
After your first visit, be sure to keep your dentist informed any time there is a change in your current health status. Let your dentist also know if you are pregnant, have developed allergies or are a smoker. Depending on your health status at the time of your visit, different treatment alternatives, or even delaying treatment, may be recommended.
How can I be assured my medical history and records will remain private?
You dentist cannot release any diagnosis or office visit information without your consent. You may be asked to sign a release form so that your dental office can provide that information to the insurance company for health insurance benefits.
Insurance companies are required to keep that information confidential from anyone not directly involved with your care or with processing your insurance, just as are physicians, hospitals and other health service providers.
Reviewed: January 2012
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