Why Dentists Update Your Medical History

Thursday, 27 July 2023
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Medical History

Many people roll their eyes or sigh when asked to update their medical history form every year. We know that it can seem tedious to have to fill out a medical update form when visiting the dentist or answer the same medical questions at the start of a hygiene appointment, but we wouldn’t ask for this information if it wasn’t important.

In a nutshell, your medical history determines what dental treatment can be done, and the way in which it is carried out.

Why Dentists Update Your Medical History?

Please keep reading for information on the ins and outs of why the team at Grandis Dental are so diligent about medical history updates.


Allergies to foods and medications may seem like an obvious thing to tell your dentist about, but allergies to preservatives, dyes, metals, or latex are often overlooked. Be sure to declare ALL allergies to ensure you don’t encounter anything that doesn’t agree with you.


Heart valve or joint replacement surgery can result in a patient needing to take antibiotics prior to visiting the dentist, to protect the new valve or joint from an embolus of bacteria.

Any kind of surgery will result in us asking if you came out of the anaesthesia easily and if you had problems with excessive bleeding or clotting postoperatively. These are clues for us in your overall health, and how you might respond during and after a dental appointment. Depending on the findings during your dental appointment, if you also had problems with bleeding or clotting, your dental practitioner might contact your medical doctor to suggest some further investigations. This is all to ensure that there is nothing being missed, and you are being thoroughly cared for.

Hospitalizations without surgery are also important to disclose, as Some Medical Conditions, Medications, and Treatments can Lead to an increase in rate and severity of pre-existing Dental Diseases. Even if patients aren’t currently undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, osteoporosis treatments, or steroidal medications, the side effects of these medications can have an impact on dental health and treatment options for several years or even a lifetime after these medications have been ceased.


Many Medications and supplements can Cause Side Effects such as enlarged gums, dry mouth, altered taste sensations, abnormal bleeding, can affect clotting and have adverse effects on dental anaesthetic. Some result in an increase in clenching and grinding and others can lead to changes in the appearance of the soft tissues in the mouth.


Lifestyle Factors Can impact your risk factors for Dental Diseases and sometimes result in more aggressive dental decays or gum problems.  There is no judgement regarding lifestyle factors, your dental team only wants to have the entire story of your health history so that they can assist you to avoid dental disease, no matter what the circumstances.

If you are a regular weightlifter or gym junkie there is an increased chance of clenching and grinding while working out, which will increase the risk of chips, cracks, and breakages of the teeth.

People that exercise for hours at a time are at a higher chance of dehydration. Adequate hydration is essential to produce saliva. Dehydration will decrease the quality and quantity of saliva, and this often leads to an increase in rate and severity of decay. The risk of dental disease increases further if people rehydrate with sports drinks such as Powerade. Water is best.

Eating disorders. There are a couple of different ways that eating disorders can affect your teeth and lead to more cavities. To start, your body won’t get the proper nutrition it needs, like calcium. Some eating disorders can lead to purging, which ultimately damages tooth enamel. If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, we’d love to direct you to resources that can help you overcome it and thrive.

Alcohol can lead to dry mouth and can wear away enamel due to its high acidity. To decrease dental disease risk, consume alcohol through a straw wherever possible and follow with a drink of water. Avoid carbonated drinks as a mixer.

Diet. Foods and drinks high in sugars and acids dramatically increase the chances of developing a decay. Drinks with wedges of lemon or lime added, and yummy vinegarette dressings can lead to erosion of enamel and an increase in wear which is permanent. Ideally, acidic foods should be eaten while sipping a glass of water, which will dilute the acidity and rinse the teeth clean. Acidic drinks should be consumed though a straw within a limited timeframe, rather than over several hours, which extends the acid attack on enamel. If possible, have a glass of water after any acidic drink to rinse the mouth clean.

You should advise us of your smoking/vaping status and history as well as your alcohol and illicit drug use status and history. Smoking. Even one cigarette each day can have harmful effects on your oral health. Smoking aids in the development of bacteria and tartar in your mouth, which may result in tooth decay and cavities. For our patients that smoke that have a high risk of decay, we sometimes suggest additional oral care products to reduce their risk of dental disease.

Should we see dental signs inconsistent with the lifestyle habits you’ve disclosed to us, we may be concerned, and refer you for further tests relating to your overall health.


It’s common for dentists to be the first to detect Clues to other Things Happening in the Body such as the smell of ketones on the breath hinting of undiagnosed or poorly managed diabetes.

Dental erosion in specific areas warrants suspicion of reflux, heartburn, or GORD.

Exaggerated gum bleeding or swelling can be a sign of more sinister health problems. Specific lesions on the gums can be an indication of several autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s Disease.

A dental practitioner is often the first health care provider to advise a patient to see their general practitioner and have things investigated further. Often patients are unaware of these symptoms until their dental practitioner shows them or thinks that this is how things are meant to look.