Taking Patient Information – Your First Appointment
Practice Principal Dentist Dr Tushar Patel, explains why we need this information.
If you have just moved to the Streatham area and are looking for a dental practice to register with, we are always happy to see new patients at the Confidental Clinic. Wherever you go though, the initial appointment will, by and large, be very similar.
This first meeting allows us to introduce ourselves to the patient and help them to feel confidence in the dentist who will be treating them. It is also an important opportunity to learn some useful, and often essential, information about the patient themselves.
We are not here to learn the intricate details of your personal life, but there are many contributory factors that can have an effect on your teeth and gums, and oral health in general. The more information we can obtain, the better service we can provide. Some of the questions that we ask, such as about any illnesses or medication, are also essential for the patient’s safety.
What questions will we ask?
Although it may seem tedious, we do have to take certain information for our records, including the inevitable name, address and contact details. Without these, we wouldn’t be able to contact you if an appointment needed to be cancelled, or to fit you in for one if you required an emergency appointment. These are routine questions though which very few patients query.
Some patients are a little more concerned when we ask about their medical history. We do understand that some people think that there are no links between that and what a dentist does, but they are mistaken. Some illnesses can have a significant effect upon your oral health and one of the best known of these is probably diabetes. This illness makes the patient more prone to oral infections and especially gum disease. The advice and treatment offered to a diabetic, will usually be different to that given to patients with a clean bill of health.
Diabetes is not the only illness though that can affect oral health. Cancers, kidney disease and heart disease can also affect both your oral health and the treatment that we provide.
Similarly, it is important for us to know what medications you are on. Many of these will not affect how we treat you, but some can. A case in point are blood thinners such as Warfarin. We need to be aware of this as patients on this medication may not heal as quickly due to the anticoagulant properties of the medication. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be treated, but, for more lengthy and invasive procedures, it might possibly be that you will require the procedure to be carried out in hospital, rather than at a dental practice.
Less dramatically, some medications have side effects that can affect your mouth. A relatively common side effect of medication is a dry mouth. This may seem to be mainly an inconvenience, but a consistently dry mouth is likely to result in gum disease. In a case such as this, the remedy may be as simple as encouraging you to stay better hydrated and also to see our dental hygienist for more regular, professional cleaning.
This is an area that can seem a little intrusive to some patients. We don’t need to know everything that you do in your life, but there are lifestyle choices that can have serious implications for your teeth and gums. One of the most obvious ones is whether you drink and smoke. If you regularly partake in both of these, not only gum disease, but oral cancers are more likely.
We may also touch on the more delicate issue of the HPV virus. We certainly aren’t interested in the details of your sex life, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that patients need to be better aware of the link between this and the effect it can have on mouth health. Whilst this may be deemed to be more of a ‘medical’ issue, the HPV virus is thought to be one of the major causes of oral cancer, a potentially life threatening disease.
Of course, some patients will be concerned with what we do with the information that is provided. The most obvious thing is that we will use this information to give our Streatham patients the best dental provision that we can. As far as privacy goes, you can be assured that the Confidental Clinic has a strong and robust privacy system and your records will remain private and confidential and used for oral health care purposes only. We will not share your information with others.
If you live in the Streatham area of London and are not yet registered with a dental practice, our friendly team will be happy to meet you for an initial consultation. We feel that, like most patients, you will find us to be both friendly and helpful, helping you to have the best oral health possible. If you would like to pop along to see us, please call the Confidental Clinic on 020 8674 2052.