Everyone hates to fill out health history forms, gosh, I know I do. Especially when I just filled them out last year or the year before. Isn’t once enough? Well the simple answer to that is No. It is important for us to know current and accurate health information which includes changes in medications, joint replacements, heart complications and any new developments since your last visit.
You can help make this process easier by bringing a current list of medications and the amounts that you take, both prescribed and over the counter, including aspirin, vitamins and any supplements, whether prescribed or not. Bring this to each visit, particularly if there has been a change in your medications.
If you have had a joint replacement or have a heart condition, we will ask for the name of your treating physician and their phone number. They will be contacted to determine the need for antibiotic prophylaxis. Patients who have certain heart conditions and those with artificial joints may be at risk of developing an infection in the heart or at the site of the artificial joint respectively. Antibiotics taken prior to dental treatment reduce this risk.
Certain diseases of the body can have a direct effect on your teeth as well. If you have GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) the reflux of acid from the stomach back up into the esophagus can ultimately make its way to the mouth. Because this acid is in constant intimate contact with the teeth, it can demineralize or remove layers from them. In general, the enamel on the lingual, or the tongue and palate surfaces of the tooth, is affected rather than the outer or cheek side of the enamel of the tooth. It is also true that patients with GERD experience dry mouth, which intensifies dental bacteria and plaque and can lead to an increase in cavities and decay. Medications that GERD patients take can also dry out the mouth, which contributes to stronger dental plaque. A number of patients say that sucking on breath mints, candies, or lozenges soothes burning in the mouth. Sucking on lozenges can also stimulate saliva production, which helps to fight dry mouth. Beware of mints or sucking on candies that contain sugar, as they can also contribute to increased decay.
Cancer and Chemotherapy is another important health issue we need to know about. You may have certain side effects in your mouth from chemotherapy. Each persons experience may be different. The problems depend on the chemotherapy drugs and how your body reacts to them. You may have these problems only during treatment or for a short time after treatment ends. These can include: painful mouth and gums, dry mouth, burning, peeling, or swelling tongue, infection, and/or change in taste. You may be surprised that your dentist is important in your cancer treatment. If you go to the dentist before chemotherapy begins, you can help prevent serious mouth problems. Side effects often happen because a person's mouth is not healthy before chemotherapy starts. Not all mouth problems can be avoided but the fewer side effects you have, the more likely you will stay on your cancer treatment schedule.
Allergies are another area where we need accurate information. What are you allergic to and what kind of reaction did you have. If you check the box, allergic to antibiotics, we need to know specifically which one and what happened when you took it last.
These are just a few examples of why it’s important to have an accurate health history completed and up to date. Each item on the health history form is there for a reason and helps us provide you with the best care.