Did you know that the state of your oral health is often an indicator of your overall health? While studies have not conclusively proven causality (whether your oral health affects bodily health, or vice versa), the truth is that it probably works both ways. Poor oral health can lead to problems with your overall health, such as if you have trouble eating due to the pain of periodontitis, or if an abscess in a tooth spreads to your bloodstream.
In addition, your overall health, including illness and medications you take, could negatively impact your oral health. Suppose you’re taking a medication that dries your mouth, or you have an illness that compromises your immune system. Your dentist needs to know so that he/she can effectively diagnose, treat, and prevent oral health issues. Why is your medical history so important to your dentist? Because it can have a major impact on your oral health.
Some people are lucky enough to be born with strong teeth and bones. Some have abundant saliva that helps to keep their mouth naturally clean. Others aren’t quite so blessed. If you have a long family history of cavities and other oral health issues, your dentist needs to know so that preventive solutions can help you to stave off similar problems.
Your overall family medical history is important, as well. If conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancers (including oral cancers), and other serious diseases run in your family, your dentist can keep an eye out for warning signs, implement preventive treatments where applicable, and tailor diagnosis and treatment to account for potential issues.
If you currently have diabetes, cancer, or other medical conditions, it’s extremely important that you let your dentist know. Why? Let’s say you have cancer and you’re undergoing chemotherapy. Dry mouth is a common condition, and it can compromise your oral health significantly. Your dentist may recommend a mouthwash that combats dry mouth to help.
Those with diabetes may be more susceptible to periodontal disease, and your dentist can schedule extra checkups to watch for warning signs and take action as needed. Being forthcoming about any health conditions you currently suffer can only help your dentist to create a personalized plan that meets your oral health needs.
Prevention and Treatment
If your doctor didn’t know you had a family history of heart disease, he might not take high blood pressure as seriously, and this could lead to a fatal outcome. The same basic principle applies to your dentist. With a full medical history, this professional can more effectively prevent oral health issues and treat any that arise.