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Medications & Your Dental Health

“Should I Tell My Dentist About The Medications I’m Taking?”

As a dentist in Harrisonburg, I treat thousands of patients every year. My patients come from all ages, backgrounds, and all have their own unique health issues and concerns. I work with all of them to not only improve their dental health, but their overall health and well-being as well.

That process starts with a simple question:

“Are you taking any medications or being treated for any health conditions?”

A patient’s answer to this simple question can greatly affect my ability to help them. In today’s post, we’ll talk about how you can help yourself and your dentist by providing a clear and thorough answer. We’ll also talk about some of the negative outcomes that can result from an incomplete answer.

Let’s get started.

What should you tell your dentist?

You should definitely tell your dentist about every medication you’re taking as well as all health conditions you’re currently being treated for. It is extraordinarily important for your dentist to have a complete, accurate medical history and list of current medications for all patients.

Here’s why:

  1. The medications you take may have side effects that affect your mouth– swollen gums and dry mouth are common with some medications, for example. If your dentist knows you’re taking such medications, he or she can help you anticipate and manage those side effects.

  2. The medications you’re taking may combine poorly with medicines or treatments that your dentist might otherwise recommend. By being aware of any possible contraindications as they’re known, your dentist can alter your treatment plan accordingly.

Did You Know: Dry Mouth Affects Your Dental Health!

People with dry mouth often develop more cavities and tend to have more problems with gum disease. Dry mouth can be very painful too and it’s not always easy to manage.

Of the 50 most commonly prescribed medications in America, most of them cause some level of dry mouth. Plus, if you have to take more than one medication, your mouth can dry out even more!

In my experience, medications for high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and narcotic pain medications tend to be the worst culprits when it comes to dry mouth.

Trust Your Dentist’s Expertise & Judgement

It is very important to let your dentist be the expert and let him or her decide what medical information is important and pertinent. Don’t hold anything back. Tell your dentist your whole story.

Some people might think that just because a disease or condition isn’t directly related to the mouth that it’s not important. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth! One common example is diabetes– a disease that affects nearly 10% of people in the US! While diabetes is characterized (generally speaking) by uncontrolled blood sugar it can have effects throughout the body, including the mouth.

People with diabetes are more likely to suffer from gum disease and other oral infections. By working closely with your dentist, you can minimize those complications. Additionally, people with diabetes who take good care of their teeth and gums tend to have fewer overall diabetic complications.

And that’s just one very common example of why your dentist should be made aware of your overall health history.

Don’t Forget About Allergies!

Medications like antibiotics and anesthetics can have serious (and potentially life-threatening) side effects if you’re allergic. Make sure your dentist knows about all your allergies to medications and even foods. Oftentimes it’s simple to swap one medication for another if you have a certain allergy.

What your dentist doesn’t know might hurt you!

What About Your Privacy?

Just like your primary care physician, specialists, or a doctor you’d see at the emergency room, your dentist takes your privacy very seriously. All health care professionals adhere to a set of guidelines set by HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996).

You don’t need to worry about your health history being shared with your employer or anyone else. What you tell your dentist about your health is completely private and is only used to help your dentist provide the best treatment possible.

At Batchelor Dentistry, we make sure that your medical history is 100% secure and private. If you have questions, just ask!

Preparing For Your Next Appointment

Explaining your health history on the spot can be difficult and stressful– but it doesn’t have to be! Before your next dental appointment, read over this checklist and prepare answers to share with your dentist:

  • What medications are your currently taking– both prescription and over the counter?

  • Have you started, stopped, or changed doses of medications since your last appointment?

  • Do you have any allergies that you know about?

  • Have you had any sudden changes in health since your last appointment?

  • What doctors are you currently seeing?

  • What health issues are your currently receiving treatment for?

  • Have you been diagnosed with any new health issues since your last appointment?

  • How are you feeling in general?

  • How can your dentist help you feel your best?

  • Do you have any questions about how your medications may impact your dental health and care?

Talk to your dentist about these questions to make sure you’re receiving the best possible dental care! 

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