The Health Questionnaire - an absolute necessity

Posted by Dr. Edward Magida | Filed under , ,

"I'm only hear for a check up, why do I need to do that?" This is a question we hear in the office several times per month. The next question is usually... "why do you need to know what drugs I'm taking?" For some unknown reason, people think that their teeth are totally independent from the rest of their bodies and there is no connection between oral health and the health of the rest of the body.

Whenever a new patient enters our practice, it is necessary to obtain certain information about any drugs they are taking or are allergic to. Also, any diseases or conditions the person has, or has had , is important for your dentist to know. We do not ask the questions just because we are nosey, we do it because there are dental procedures that are affected by certain things going on in the body. There are also certain conditions that can be exacerbated by dental treatment.

"Why do you need to know if I have a heart murmur, all I want is an exam and to get my teeth cleaned? I don't get my doctor's permission every time I take a shower and clean myself, so why is it so important for you to know all about me when all I want is clean teeth?" It might not seem important, but the simple act of cleaning a persons teeth could put them in a potentally life threatening situation. Luckily it does not happen very often, but if a person has a certain type of a heart murmur, there is a chance, albeit very small, that an infection could start around their heart valve after any type of dental treatment. If the dentist knew ahead of time, all that is needed is to have the patient premedicate with antibiotics before any dental treatment Popping a few pills is certainly much less of a headache than destroying a heart valve.

Other important things that the dentist needs to know are if the are any artificial joints or other parts in the body. Allergies to drugs need to be known for the obvious reason. We need to know which drugs a person can or can't take if the occasion should arise. A woman needs to mention if she is taking birth control pills because certain antibiotics make them less effective and other forms of contraception might be needed on an interim basis to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

For existing patients, a health questionnaire needs to be updated at least once a year. A person might have recently found out about a heart problem they have and needs to share this information with the dental team. Even something as seemingly innocent as having to take aspirin daily to help prevent a heart attack should be told to the dentist so that appropriate measures can be taken if needed. For instance, we all know that aspirin thins the blood and this makes people tend to bleed easier and longer. If such a patient had a tooth extracted, I might put in a stitch to help control the bleeding, just for added insurance that the area will heal properly.

So when you are asked to update your health records, please do not think we are prying into your personal life. We just want to make your visit to the dental office as comfortable and easy as possible.