An Update That Could Save Your Life

By Catherine M. Fascilla, D.D.S.

If you are always rushing around, and find filling out forms and questionnaires tedious, or a waste of time, take a moment to consider the importance of a dental health history. You may wonder since your dentist is only treating your teeth, what makes all the requested medical information so important. You’d be surprised at how critical a current health history is.

According to information obtained in a medical history, your dentist may need special preparation before your dental visit. If you have a heart murmur, have had rheumatic fever as a child, or any other major heart condition such a valve replacements, it will be necessary for you to be premedicated with antibiotics. Premedication before your dental visit can prevent bacterial endocarditis, a rare but potentially life threatening infection of the heart valves or tissue lining the heart. Even a routine cleaning can cause bleeding, which exposes the bloodstream to streptococcus bacteria in the mouth. There is a chance this bacteria can travel to the lining of the heart making you susceptible to this condition. Premedication with antibiotics ensures your safety.

It is also necessary for your dentist to be aware of any drug allergies in case an antibiotic is prescribed. Certain medications such as blood thinners nay need to be stopped several days prior to dental appointments. Your dentist may contact your physician to establish the safest course of treatment. Some people have allergies to certain dental materials, or reactions to types of anesthetics, and it is important that your medical history be updated periodically.

A thorough medical history is completely confidential between you and your dentist, and vital to you dentist’s ability to provide you with quality care. When it comes to your health, remember that nothing is too small or insignificant to mention.

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