Safe Dentistry: Medications

Why does my dentist ask about my medication?

When you come in we ask you about your medication and health history. That’s a lot of personal information just for somebody to look at your teeth, right? 

Well, actually it is incredibly important for dentists to know everything about you – especially your medications – to make sure your visit is a safe and healthy experience. 

We checked with Dr. Wheatley to give you a better idea of why this information is so important. 

How medications can affect the whole YOU?

As health professionals and dentists, we need to make sure your treatment is safe for you.

To do this, we need to know about any medical conditions that you may have and if you take any medications.

For instance, if you are taking blood thinners for your heart health, what is expected to be a small bleed during a dental procedure may turn into a dangerous bleed.

If you have had surgery or a major illness, be sure to include this information in the medical history section of your patient form, and to tell us before your procedure. For example, after some operations, patients may need to take antibiotics before having dental treatment.

Depending on what medications you take, we can modify your dental treatment to support your medical treatment. We can also share information from our dental treatments with your doctor, which can help with your overall health.

Be very detailed on your form about any medications you take or use, whether it’s prescription or non-prescription. Some medications react with the medicaments or procedures we use in treatments. 

  1. Some heart conditions may react badly to certain types of anesthetic.
  2. Some medications such as blood thinners slow your blood’s ability to clot. This can be significant after a dental extraction.

How medications can affect your oral health?

Many medications, prescribed by your primary care doctor, any specialists and obtained over-the-counter, can affect your oral health. One of the most common side effects of many medications is dry mouth. Natural saliva helps keep food from collecting around your teeth and neutralizes acids given off by bacterial plaque, which is continuously growing on the surface of the teeth. These acids damage the hard surfaces of your teeth which greatly increases your risk for tooth decay. The bacteria also leads to an increased risk of gingivitis and progressive gum diseases.

In addition to commonly prescribed medications, cancer treatments can also affect your oral health. If possible, see your dentist before beginning treatment to ensure your mouth is starting in good health, and if necessary, prescribe treatments to help maintain your oral health.

Your dentist is not only interested in your current medications, but also medications you have taken in the past because many can affect your current dental treatments. Your dentist may want to speak with your physician when planning dental treatment. Although rare, some serious jaw problems can occur in people who’ve received bone-strengthening medications to treat cancer or osteoporosis.

Many diseases can have significant effects on your mouth and teeth. Researchers continue to discover ways in which oral health relates to overall health:

  1. Diabetes can increase the risk of periodontal (gum) disease.
  2. Illnesses including some auto-immune diseases or poorly controlled diabetes can cause dry mouth (xerostomia).
  3. Treatments including radiation therapy, some medications for depression and anxiety, and pain management can cause dry mouth. Too little saliva can result in increased tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath (halitosis).
  4. There are also links between poor periodontal health and heart disease.

Medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure can influence the type and timing of dental treatment you can receive. 

By working with your dentist to provide as much relevant health information as possible, you are maximizing the safety and effectiveness of your dental treatment.

These are only a few examples of how medications can affect your oral health. Tell your dentist about any recent changes in your use of medications or in your overall general health. Providing a current and accurate health history, including both prescriptions and over-the-counter products, is the best way to ensure that your complete body health is maintained in the best and safest way possible.

Past abnormal responses to anesthetic or medications such as antibiotics will alert your dental team so they can use a different medication.

Why does my dentist want to know about my allergies?

Information about allergies to medication or other substances is also important to know. Allergies to latex or particular foods can indicate that you may respond adversely if we used certain dental products.

For example, if you were allergic to bananas, you may have a response to latex, the material that some dental gloves are made from. If your dentist knows about a potential allergy, we can use an alternate material.

Mention everything about your health on your medical history form, even if you don’t think it relates to your mouth. Your mouth is just one part of your body. Your oral health is connected to your overall health, and your overall health impacts your oral health.

Here are all our patient forms if your want to download them and fill them out before coming into our Norman dentist office.

Disclosure of Protected Health Information

Acknowledgement of Receipt of Privacy Policy

Covid-19 Patient Questionnaire

Notice of Privacy Policy