Tooth Talk: Forms can save lives

Q: Every time I go to the dentist they want me to fill out a form with my medicines and health changes. I hate filling out these forms. I can’t see what any of it has to do with my teeth. Why do they need to know?

A: Well, I understand that no one likes to take the time to fill out forms every time they go to their doctor or dentist but I can assure you it is important, very important.

Many people are unaware of the recent connection between oral health and systemic health. In fact, researchers are finding links between the two regularly making the correlation between a healthy mouth and a healthy body particularly strong.

As you have heard me state before our population down here in Southwest Florida, while it may be getting younger, is primarily composed of older individuals. These individuals often have medical problems or conditions requiring medications as well as management by a physician or specialist.

What they don’t realize is that many of these conditions and/or medications can directly affect the mouth. They can actually cause new problems or exacerbate existing problems making them worse.

A request for an updated medical history and list of medications is one of the only ways your dentist and dental hygienist can identify your individual needs and treat you accordingly. Ailments such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and joint replacements combined with the medications that are used to manage them can adversely affect the teeth, gums and oral cavity.

For instance, there are over 500 medications that cause xerostomia or dry mouth. The decrease in salivary production leads to an increased incidence of cavities.

If your dentist is made aware of this he or she will be able to help combat this problem. Patients with diabetes are also at high risk for tooth decay and they are also more susceptible to periodontal disease.

A periodontal infection in someone with diabetes makes their blood sugar very difficult to control. People with arthritis or those who have had a stroke often times have problems with dexterity and may need assistance in finding solutions to the challenge of keeping their teeth clean.

In today’s world, there are many people who have joint replacements both of the hip and knee, artificial heart valves, pacemakers and even transplants.

All of these people have very special needs requiring close attention by their dentist and dental hygienist in order to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

So, the next time you go to the dentist and they ask you to fill out a new form, please fill it out and realize that we are only trying to keep you healthy.

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Questions can be sent to Fred Eck, D.D.S. at Marco Dental Care, 950 N. Collier Blvd., Suite 305, Marco Island, or call 389-9400. Web site: marcodentalcare.com. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Detroit Mercy and is licensed by the Florida State Board of Dentistry.

© 2008 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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