Why Does Your Child’s Dentist Need Their Medical History?

The first time you bring your child to the dentist, you fill out a form that provides information about their medical history. Some of the questions may seem strange.


Why does the dentist need to know if they have allergies, anxiety, language problems, or bite their nails?

Believe it or not, every single question on the medical history form directly impacts the way we care for your child. Some of the questions help us determine the best way to interact with your child, others allow us to create an appropriate treatment plan, and a few of the questions help us avoid life-threatening situations. However, we can only work with the information that you provide about your child. That is why it is so important that you provide accurate information and let us know about any changes in your child’s medical history.

Specific ways that health information impacts dental treatment.


Heart Conditions, including congenital heart defects, heart surgery, and artificial heart valves. This is vital information that we need to know. Dental treatment can allow bacteria from the mouth to enter the bloodstream, which may cause an infection called infective endocarditis. Some heart conditions increase the risk of infective endocarditis. Although it can be deadly, if your child is in an at-risk group, we can treat them with a one-time dose of antibiotics before their dental procedure. This provides them with additional protection from any harmful bacteria.


Broken Bones or Recent Surgeries. This is another important update that we need to know about. Unfortunately, broken bones happen more frequently in childhood. The bacteria that enter the bloodstream during dental procedures can find the location of a recent break or surgery and grow in that area, causing infection. If the break requires surgery and the placement of plates, screws, or pins, the bacteria are even more likely to grow at those sites.


In either of these situations, it is best if you call ahead to let us know. This allows us to contact your child’s doctor ahead of time, to gain consent from the doctor and to determine whether your child needs a dose of antibiotics before treatment. If we find out during the appointment, we will have to contact the doctor while you are in the office and that could cause you to wait before the appointment can be completed. We also may not be able to reach the doctor, which means the appointment would need to be rescheduled. We don’t want that! Our goal is that you and your child’s experience in our office will go as smoothly as possible, so please call ahead in this situation.


Medications and Supplements. There are two reasons we need to know about any medications or supplements that your child is taking. The first is that some medications can cause dry mouth, or contain sugars, and both these situations create an environment that is more conducive to the development of decay. The second reason is that certain medications and supplements can impact the type of anesthesia used or the medications we prescribe.


High Blood Pressure. Unfortunately, children and teens can also develop high blood pressure. If your child has been diagnosed with high blood pressure, we need to know so we can use a different type of dental anesthetic.


Anxiety or Sensory Processing Issues. Some children find it difficult to cope with a dental appointment for a variety of reasons. In these instances, our entire team will approach the appointment differently. We are trained in special techniques to help your child feel safe and stay relaxed. Some children, no matter what measures we take to help them stay calm, will need safe dental sedation to make it through their appointment.


Chronic Sinus Problems. Sinus problems, including those caused by allergies, can cause tooth pain and even mimic an abscessed tooth.


Diabetes. This condition is related to a higher risk of periodontal (gum) disease. Dr. Culp focuses on prevention to help your child avoid developing decay and gum disease. If we know that your child has diabetes, we can monitor their mouth more closely so they can maintain optimal oral health and take special precautions if a restoration becomes necessary.


This information covers some of the situations where medical history can impact your child’s dental treatment but there are many more that we need to know about. In this case, too much information is always better than not enough. If your child has any changes to their health, even if you think it has nothing to do with dental treatment, please tell us! We want to be sure that your child has the safest possible experience when they are in our office.


Lifestyle Habits


We will also ask about lifestyle habits so we can provide the best comprehensive care. Extended use of a pacifier, bottle, thumb or finger sucking, or nail biting can change the way the mouth forms and may lead to improper alignment or a narrow palate. We can provide you with information and resources to help change the habit and minimize any possible damage.


Mouth breathing, tooth grinding, speech problems, and tongue thrusting may indicate an underlying dental problem that can be treated with a nightguard or orthodontic treatment.


Participation in high-impact sports, smoking, pregnancy, and family medical history are also important factors in providing your child with the highest level of care.



Your child’s health and safety are our primary concern whenever they are in our office. Even if something seems to be entirely unrelated to their dental treatment, please let us know if they have any change in their medical information. Our goal is to provide your child with a safe, soothing, comfortable experience so they are happy to call Jungle Roots their dental home. The more information that you provide, the easier it is for us to determine the proper care and the best treatment approach for your child. Working together, we can provide the foundation for a lifetime of positive dental experiences!



Call Us at (480) 759-1119



At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.



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