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How To Talk With Your Dentist To Get The Best Care You Can

As are all health care professionals, your dentist’s primary concern is the care for your health. It’s something you can take for granted as part of the responsibility s/he accepts with graduation from dental school. However, you have a responsibility, as well, because health care is based on a relationship between you and your care giver, in this case your dentist.

In order to maintain a good relationship, the two of you must have good, open communication. That means you talk about your dental concerns, listen to each other, and ask questions. You must be able to trust that your dentist has only your best interests in mind. Likewise, your dentist must be able to trust that you will be completely open and honest about what’s going on with your medical and dental health. Neither of you can make good decisions without trust and good information.

Of course, if you are a shy person who isn’t given to chat eagerly about what’s going on in your life this might not be so easy for you. Even if it doesn’t feel natural at first, it’s a good idea to try to establish a good rapport with your dentist from the very beginning. Let him or her know what dental concerns you have, talk about your family medical and dental history – did your parents have dentures or suffer from gum disease? – and share any medical problems you have and medications you currently take.

You might be wondering why you would need to talk about your personal and family medical history with your dentist. Well, that’s because many health conditions are genetic, and your health issues and lifestyle affect your teeth, mouth and gums.

• Infections can affect your gum health and even cause gingivitis. • If you took antibiotics as a teenager for skin problems, it may well discolor your teeth. High blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, all affect the health of your teeth. • Smoking can promote increased plaque, bad breath, gum disease and oral cancer. • High blood pressure especially is a concern because you could have a reaction to some types of anesthesia, which could cause a sudden spike in your blood pressure. Your dentist will want to monitor your blood pressure during any lengthy procedure in which you receive Novocain or other types of numbing or anesthetic medicine.

Another reason to establish a trusting, communicative relationship with your dentist is because sooner or later you’ll have to make a major treatment decision. You’ll be told you need a dental procedure, and you may even have some alternatives to choose from. If you trust your dentist and the care you have been receiving, and you ask for the reasons why you need the procedure, it should be a relatively easy decision-making process.

The more your dentist understands about the state of your health, the better s/he will be able to treat you.

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