Hate wasting your time doing a medical history? So do we.
Your pet peeve = paperwork. Our pet peeve = asking people all day to do their paperwork (and getting attitude). I know it seems like you just did your medical history and maybe nothing has changed, but this crucial part of your dental record could actually save your life! In this blog post, I’m going to review some parts of a medical history, why we need to have them, and a simple trick to make this annoying paperwork take just a few minutes.
As you can imagine, the dental office isn’t the first place you call when you move into a new house or get a new cell phone number. Often times, we assume your dental insurance is the same unless you tell us otherwise. As a result, this crucial section doesn’t get updated and we can’t get a hold of you to confirm appointments, the payments for your services don’t get processed, and our office ends up wasting a lot of time trying to track you and your insurance company down.
Even established patients can have changes in how their mouth looks or feels. Although we keep records of the procedures we perform, from time to time it’s a good idea to get your perspective on how your teeth and gums are doing. When we ask specific questions about your habits like grinding your teeth, chewing on ice or whether or not you have any other concerns, we are inviting you to be an active participant in your care.
This is usually the most lengthy and most important section of the paperwork. Every single medical condition you have can potentially gives us clues as to why you, your mouth, or teeth look and feel the way they do. Here are just a few of the correlations we see between medical conditions and oral conditions.
- Diabetes- dry mouth and increased chances of inflammation and decay
- Heart Disease- dry mouth, increased risk of periodontal disease
- Anorexia and Bulimia- low bone density, increased risk of decay, sensitivity
- Cancers- dry mouth, burning mouth, decay, infections
- HIV/AIDS- mouth sores, oral cancer, infections, periodontal disease, cold sores
- GI Disorders- increased risk for decay, mouth sores, throat cancers
- Kidney Disease- bad breath, bone loss, increased plaque and tartar
In addition, your unique medical condition might determine how and when we want to treat you. For example, some prescription medications for heart problems are contraindicated with certain types of local anesthetics we commonly use. If you fail to provide us with accurate information, a serious cardiac even could occur. Another common situation comes along with our diabetic patients. If they are scheduled for a lengthy dental appointment and suddenly pass out from low blood sugar, our staff needs to know what steps to take to help them recover quickly.
Medications (including over-the-counters and herbal supplements)
Did you know that there are hundreds of medications that cause dry mouth?! Since saliva contains important enzymes, proteins and helpful bacteria that help protect your gums and teeth, you can imagine the problems you might have when you don’t have enough spit. We can provide helpful prescription products to minimize the damage caused from dry mouth but first we need to know what’s causing it. Almost every medication on the market has some type of side effect. There are also quite a few over the counter supplements that seem to be nothing but a healthy habit that can actually cause the blood to be thin… which would give you the diagnosis of gingivitis. Others put people at risk for ulcers and strange conditions of the tongue. Knowing everything you take helps better provide you with the best care possible.
Simplify The Process
May I make a one suggestion so that your next set of paperwork only takes a few minutes? Make a list like this and keep it in your wallet, purse or cell phone:
medical-card <—–Click to download
Full Name and Date of Birth
Physician and Emergency Contact
Major Surgeries or Hospitalizations
God forbid you pass out in public and you don’t have this information available. Carrying it with you at all times will assist any emergency medical team that might be called to handle you. AND now you have a handy reference so the next time you are asked to fill out our paperwork, it only takes a few minutes… in fact, if you ask nicely, we will make a copy and keep it in your file.
All of these things combined can mean the difference between a routine visit with us or a medical emergency so just as we are patient with you, please be patient with us so we can get you back to see the doctor or hygienist without any unnecessary stress and in a timely manner.
It’s confession time! Have YOU ever given a front desk major attitude for the paperwork they are required to have you complete? Leave a comment and tell me your side of the story…