Do I need to tell my Dentist about changes to my general health?

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Many studies have indicated a correlation between certain medical conditions and the oral health of patients. It is easy for a dentist to spot the signs of an underlying medical condition having a detrimental effect on a patient's oral health. For instance, many patients who visit the dentist for check ups and have conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes tend to have a much higher rate of oral health issues than generally healthy patients. Research also indicates that the longer a patient has had a medical issue, the more likely they are to experience increased instances of oral health problems. It is standard practice to complete a medical history form when signing up at a dental clinic and this helps to alert the staff for any special needs a patient may have.

Lung disease, whilst being physically debilitating can also lead to a number of problems with oral health. It is also important to note that many patients with lung disease have, at some point in their lives, been smokers. Smoking has a huge impact on your oral health and can not only lead to increased staining due to nicotine but may even lead to the loss of teeth. Smoking also exacerbates any existing gum problems, making the gums irritated or inflamed. It can often increase the inflammation in the pockets of gum surrounding the teeth.

Similarly, diabetes can often have a huge effect on your dental health, causing tooth decay and increased instances of gum disease. It can also mean that the recovery period from any dental health issues can often be extended. It is important to keep diabetes under control as high glucose levels can often cause the teeth to become steadily damaged. If a patient's diabetes is not properly controlled, it can often mean that they also have an increased vulnerability towards infection.

High blood pressure is another condition which can often impact on a patient’s oral health. As high blood pressure constricts the arteries, it can often mean that the flow of blood to the teeth is decreased. In the most serious cases this may lead to the death of the tooth's pulp which will mean a dental restoration will be needed to replace the tooth. Certain medications used in the treatment of high blood pressure have been found to cause a condition known as dry mouth, which can cause a range of oral health problems. Similarly, some Epilepsy medications can also cause problems with a patient's gums.

In short, it is best to keep your dentist up to date about any medical conditions even if you don't think there is any danger of them affecting your oral health.

Read more in the Dental Treatment Information Guide »