Your Dental Care Provider and You – How to Get the Most Out of this Relationship
Building a relationship with your Greeley dental care provider is one of the most important steps on the road to excellent oral health care. You will want to find a dentist that you feel comfortable with and can trust in providing the right recommendations for dental procedures, treatments and ongoing care to maintain healthy teeth and gums. In order for your dentist to assess your overall oral health and put the proper dental health care plan in place for you, it will be important for you to do your part and do a little homework prior to your dentist visit.
Dental appointment preparation should consist of putting a list together of all prescription and over-the-counter medicines and/or vitamins you take, updating your medical history to include any current medical conditions, a list of any questions and concerns you would like to discuss with your dentist as well as what you should be doing to keep your dental care up to speed. There is a notable connection between your oral health and your general health and well-being, and one can significantly affect the other. So, make sure your dental care provider is aware of any and all issues related to your overall physical health.
Questions and Concerns to Discuss With Your Dental Care Provider – It’s All About You!
Take the time to really consider some of the things that you would like to discuss with your dental care provider and make a list. Even if you have had a minor issue that doesn’t really seem worth mentioning you should add it to your list of questions and concerns. Your dentist will be glad you asked and will be able to put your mind at ease that it is nothing to be concerned about or it may be an early warning sign of a potential problem down the road. The better prepared you are the easier it will be for you and your dentist to put together a good oral health care plan.
Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself when preparing for your dentist visit. These are just a few things to get you started; however, it is not intended to be a complete list as you will want to add anything that pertains to your own personal health.
- Do your gums bleed when you brush? This can be a warning sign for gum disease. Bleeding is a very common symptom of a mild form of gum disease, gingivitis, which causes irritation and inflammation of the gums. It is easily treated and preventable through good oral care, however, if left untreated it can lead to more serious gum disease, periodontitis, and tooth loss.
- Are you constantly popping breath mints to cover up continuous bad breath? Halitosis (bad breath) can be an embarrassing problem and is typically caused by a build-up of bacteria in the mouth. Certain foods, health conditions or accelerating tooth decay can also be the culprit. Talk to your dental care provider to get to the root of the problem and find solutions to overcome it.
- Do you grind your teeth or find yourself clenching your jaw? This is a common problem that many people experience, however, over time it can wear down teeth and make them more susceptible to decay. Your Greeley dentist can discuss causes and a course of action to help. Sometimes a simple mouth guard worn at night can alleviate the issue.
- Have you experienced sores inside your mouth that seem to take forever to heal? It is imperative you advise your dentist of any sores that won’t heal as it could be an early warning sign of oral cancer. This health condition can be treated much more easily when detected early.
- Do you have dry mouth or a lack of saliva? This condition is known as xerostomia and can significantly increase the risk of cavities and tooth decay. Certain medications or illnesses can contribute to a lack of saliva so it is important to advise your Greeley dental care provider of your medical history and any medications you are taking.
- Do you have tooth pain or unusual sensitivity to hot or cold? Most times pain or sensitivity issues are caused by tooth decay, cavities or a broken filling or cracked tooth.
The Importance of Discussing Your Medical History with Your Dental Care Provider
Prevention and early detection is paramount in maintaining good overall health which includes oral health. Surprisingly, your Greeley dentist may be able to detect serious, and possibly life-threatening, health conditions in the early stages through warning signs that may be present through oral symptoms. Symptoms such as bleeding or swollen gums, mouth ulcers, bad breath, a metallic taste in the mouth, or dry mouth can be early warning signs of serious diseases that affect the body which is why it is so critical to openly discuss any issues you are experiencing with your dental care provider.
Some of the serious health conditions that can be detected early by your dental care provider through oral symptoms are:
- Diabetes: One of the symptoms of diabetes is periodontal bleeding and inflammation. A high percentage of people with diabetes tend to have gum disease according to the American Academy of Periodontology. It is suspected that this is due to the body’s reduced ability to fight infection which affects the tissues in the mouth (the gums).
- Cancer: One of the symptoms of cancer may be sores or lesions of the mouth that won’t heal. A routine part of a dentist visit exam is screening for oral cancers including cancer of the head or neck. Other types of cancers may also be detected by a dentist such as cancer of the jaw, thyroid cancer or skin cancer.
- Kidney Disease: When kidneys are not functioning properly, by-products of incomplete protein breakdown get released into the body and oral symptoms such as bad breath, dry mouth or an unpleasant taste or metallic taste in the mouth may appear.
Your dental care provider can have a huge part in identifying the presence of, or the potential for, major health issues. It is extremely important to disclose your complete medical history and discuss all of your concerns and symptoms with your dentist no matter how minor or insignificant you may think it is. Early detection of a serious health condition can make all the difference in the world.
Be Sure to Bring a List of Medications Taken to Your Dental Appointment
There are actually a number of reasons why it is important to bring a list of all medications you take (both prescription and over-the-counter) for your dental care provider. While most medications are taken to improve or control a health issue and are meant to have a positive effect on the body, they can also have an adverse reaction on oral health. Some drugs can negatively affect the teeth and gums and can end up being the root cause of oral symptoms and dental problems. This can also be true for over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and homeopathic medicines and herbs.
Full disclosure of medications taken is also necessary in the event a dental procedure is necessary that will require anesthesia. Epinephrine, a common additive used in anesthesia, may have an adverse reaction for patients who are on blood pressure or heart medications. Blood thinning drugs can also cause excessive bleeding during oral procedures.
Soft Tissue Reactions:
Many different medications can have side effects that result in oral symptoms and mouth discomfort due to soft tissue reactions. Drugs taken for blood pressure have been known to cause swelling and inflammation, tissue discoloration and mouth sores. Oral contraceptives, immunosuppressive agents and chemotherapeutic agents can also be included in this category.
Overgrowth of gum tissue or enlarged gum tissue can be caused by anti-seizure medications like phenytoin, immunosuppressive drugs taken after an organ transplant, or calcium channel blockers used by heart patients. Careful and meticulous cleaning of teeth and gums is needed and, in some instances, gum surgery may even be required.
A potential side effect of taking aspirin and anticoagulants (blood thinners like heparin and warfarin) is reduced blood clotting which can result in excessive bleeding during an oral surgery or treatment for periodontal disease. Your Greeley dental care provider will need to be aware of the potential for bleeding problems during an oral procedure.
There are many medications that can cause dry mouth which in turn causes irritation of the tissues of the mouth and opens up a greater possibility for infection. Saliva typically helps to cleanse the mouth and remove bacteria from the teeth and mouth tissues but with the lack of saliva with dry mouth teeth are more susceptible to tooth decay. Among the long list of drugs that can cause dry mouth, some of the most common ones are antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers, blood pressure meds, muscle relaxants and drugs for Parkinson’s Disease.
Taking a little time with dental appointment preparation will be well worth it when you actually go in to see your dental care provider. Be sure to disclose your complete medical history as well as a complete list of all prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs and vitamins, supplements or herbs you take. The list should contain drug name, dosage amount and how often it’s taken.
Don’t forget your checklist of questions and concerns to discuss with your dentist. All of this information will allow your dental care provider to effectively assess your overall oral health and come up with a personalized oral health care program for you. Also talk with your dentist about the things you need to be doing at home to maintain proper dental health.
You’re invited to call Dr. Scott Williams at Ascent Family Dental (970-351-6095) to set up a consultation or appointment. Dr. Williams strives to become your Greeley family dental care provider and will work closely with you to create the perfect customized dental health care plan for you and each member of your family.