Our healthcare system has been divided into so many specialties, treating the body as individual parts and not as a whole. This has caused people to forget how our entire body is connected. As dental professionals we strive to provide comprehensive oral care because your mouth contains lots of bacteria, that gets into your bloodstream daily. For most people this is not a problem as a healthy immune system can prevent the bacteria from causing an infection, but people who have had recent surgeries especially on joints or the heart, are at a much greater risk. This is why it's important to take your medical history seriously when asked during your dental appointment, and make sure you inform your dental provider if you have had any surgery's within the last 6-12 months. In some cases, the role is reversed and some surgeons will require dental clearance before they will proceed with surgery.
There are many mixed opinions and concerns when it comes to waiting periods, doctor approval, and premedication for dental appointments. I’m not going to get into premedication requirements as those requirements are always changing, and should be determined by your dental provider and surgeon. What I do encourage is to take your dental health seriously, and if you have had any type of surgery within the last 6-12 months discuss with your dental provider and surgeon before your next dental visit, it could save you from having to reschedule when you get to your dental appointment.
What we want to know:
1) Have you had a surgery- if yes, where and when
2) We will want to find out if there are any dental precautions we need to follow, or if premedication is required. Your dental provider may require it if you are a high risk patient even if the surgeon does not, since they are more aware of the impact your oral health makes on your body.
3) Let your dental provider know if you have been taking any antibiotics over the last 6 months.
4) We will also want to know of any allergies and medications.
5) If you have any other medical concerns; heart problems, pacemaker, artificial joints, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acid reflux or thyroid problems just to name a few.
Questions to ask surgeon after surgery:
1) Is there a wait period before I should have any dental work, including a cleaning?
2) Do I need to take any premedication?
3) * Please have them provide written documentation, which you can bring with you to your dental appointment. - Not all medical providers love doing this but it will save you time and allow us to know what procedure was done and if there are any dental concerns or precautions.
It's important to update your medications regularly for a number of different reasons. The first is because medications as well as certain medical conditions can affect what we see in your oral cavity and what we make for treatment recommendations. We also need to know in case we need to call you in any prescriptions that could have adverse reactions. The third most important reason is in case of any medical emergency while in our office especially for those who are on blood thinners, blood pressure medication, are diabetic, or at risk of seizures. The medications we use, such as local anesthesia, can have effects on these conditions or medications you are taking, and we must take precautions or alter treatment.
In closing, take your dental health and overall health seriously as it could save your life! Bacteria is not something you can see, but it can create a number of problems and infections throughout your body without any warning signs. Keep your providers informed, and keep yourself informed of any precautionary steps that may need to be taken before or after surgeries.