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The Importance of a Medical History

Posted Dec 24 2008 3:12pm


A thorough medical history should always be obtained from a patient on the first visit to the dental office, and updated periodically.  This crucial information should be as accurate as possible since it can have an impact on your dental treatment.   Forgetting to include relevant  medical information could lead to serious consequences.   For example, all drugs, including prescriptions, over the counter or elicit  should be documented, since even aspirin, which thins the blood for up to seven days, could lead to excessive bleeding following an extraction.  Forgetting to inform your dentist that you are on a blood thinner such as  coumadin could lead to disastrous consequences.  Individuals with numerous medical conditions should provide a photocopy of all drugs taken.     Patients often do not realize that a simple cleaning can have serious medical implications if they have not informed their dentist and/or hygienist that they were born with a heart defect or acquired a murmur during their life.     

Forgetting to include relevant medical information could lead to serious consequences.

Heart disease from a past bout of  rheumatic fever  means that you require  antibiotics  before any dental treatment which will cause bleeding.    The reason being that oral bacteria (living on the teeth and gums) are released into your blood stream during your dental treatment.  These bugs can then lodge in the damaged  heart tissue, causing  harm.  The same applies to  mitral valve prolapse  and many other conditions.  Furthermore,  anyone with a  prosthetic implant, such as a  hip replacement, will need antibiotic coverage for the first two years following the operation. 

Please be assured that all information is kept strictly confidential and is not  shared with someone outside the dental office without your permission.    Therefore don’t hold back any information since even the use of street drugs, such as cocaine, can cause a reaction with the local anaesthetic.  Better be safe than sorry!

Please be assured that all information is kept strictly confidential and is not shared with someone outside the dental office without your permission.

 Informing your dentist that you are  diabetic  will immediately tell him/her that you are more prone to  gum disease (periodontal disease).   .  If you suffer from  asthma, make sure to bring your “puffer” to all dental appointments and have it handy should you require it during your treatment.  Many heart patients use nitro-glycerine when stressed and this should be easily available should you require it at your dental visit.

Allergies to medications, which can be life-threatening, and uncontrolled high blood pressure, may cause serious consequences if the dentist in not informed of such.

It is for your safety that a thorough medical history is taken. The dentist needs this information to treat you as safely as possible.  It is the standard of care to cover these issues, and document this information in the chart, so he is not liable for the patient’s lack of revealing a hidden or unknown medical condition.

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