Are you currently on any medication? He frowned at the tablet screen.
The thought passed through his mind… “Why do they want to know? I barely slept last night because of toothache, and now they have 50 questions!”
He moved to the next section.
Please tick if you have been diagnosed with any of the following medical conditions.
The long list swarmed before his eyes.
Irritable, he lifted his head and glared at the receptionist. He addressed her with a growl, “Kwani! I came for my teeth to be sorted out. What is all this for? My medical status is confidential. What has magego to do with all these questions?”
This is a scene that only too often happens when a patient walks into a dental practice for the first time. There is a common perception in society that teeth have nothing to do with the body.
Alongside this, is the belief that the dentist should focus on the teeth and not ask any other questions.
We often see patients who wish to avoid discussing their general medical situation, and wish that we should just sort out my teeth.
The mouth is an integral part of the human body. Every part of the body influences every other part. In medicine there is a very strong link between what are called Systemic Diseases and the mouth.
Many diseases manifest in the mouth before they show up as symptoms elsewhere. Examples are:
Diabetes Mellitus, GERD, Addison’s disease, HIV, certain cancers, TB, Syphilis and Leukemia. Some blood diseases will show up as peculiar type of gum inflammation and bleeding. Chhorn’s disease [ a gastrointestinal malfunction illness] is known for its early oral manifestations.
Other autoimmune diseases show up early on the dentist’s radar because of peculiar changes in the gums and the soft tissues in the mouth. Two significant autoimmune illnesses with early detective oral signs is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus [SLE]and Lupus.
Certain kinds of enlarged gums can indicate to the dentist that the patient is on specific medications like anti-epileptics, immuno-suppressants and calcium channel blockers. Gum discoloration can indicate possible adrenal disease, or Kaposi s Sarcoma.
However, the main reason your dentist will wish to have your medical history, is to determine whether dental treatment is possible, and what kinds of treatment should be avoided if you have a medical condition.
Lets take the example of patients who have high blood pressure or Hypertension.
Hypertensives are very delicate cases. They require their blood pressure taken at the start of every dental visit, and no dental treatment should be rendered if the BP is higher than 180/110mm Hg. Local anesthetic injections containing epinephrine could cause a rise in the BP of the patient. By their very nature, dental procedures are stressful, and any stress could if the dentist is not careful, increase the blood pressure of the patient to a dangerous level. The dentist therefore has to control the patient’s pain and anxiety with great care.
When we extend this information to other related conditions such as heart disease, it is obvious that the dentist must have your medical history in order to render proper and appropriate dental care, without harming your health.
Your medical and dental records are confidential, and our staff sign a confidentiality document that is overarching for life regarding our practice. Be sure, you are safe.
” The mouth reflects the body.”