The Periodontic Unit at the National Dental Centre Singapore puts patients' safety as top priority by customizing treatment based on medication history.
Recommendations for patients with chronic conditions
“In such a case I recommend a fluoride rinse to prevent tooth decay. They can take more sips of water, use saliva substitutes if needed, or xylitol chewing gum. Xylitol promotes the growth of healthy, non-acidic bacteria, and the chewing motion stimulates saliva production.”
Dr Lennie Foo Lean Heong, Registrar, Periodontic Unit, Department of Restorative Dentistry, National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS), a member of the SingHealth group, said that it is needful for patients to be aware of the medicines they are taking, and to inform their dentists of this and their conditions. She noted that more than half the patients treated at NDCS have chronic medical conditions. “Being a tertiary institution, we see many medically-compromised patients. Two-way communication between patient and dentist is needed in order to achieve a good treatment outcome.”
What can NDCS do
At NDCS, patients’ medical information such as lab test results and drug allergies are retrievable from the National Electronic Health Record system, which is highly secured and accessible across all SingHealth institutions for integrated patient care.
Dr Foo said patient safety is a top priority. “We have to make sure that the patient is safe during and after treatment. If we know that a patient is on a particular medication, we can better manage the side effects and plan for treatment.”
She added that patients with chronic diseases who ignore oral hygiene will increase the inflammatory burden on their bodies. “There’s some evidence that poor oral health is associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pre-term low birth weight in babies and osteoporosis. However, these associations are not yet fully understood.”
The rule of thumb is for people to go for regular dental check-ups to prevent losing their teeth, instead of resorting to implants or dentures in the future.
Prevention is better than cure
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year.
- Brush your teeth with a soft bristle toothbrush in the morning and especially at night. Your dentist can show you the correct technique.
- Use a toothbrush with a smaller head or a single- or end-tufted brush to clean teeth at the back of the mouth properly.
- Floss daily. Use an interdental brush if you have big gaps between your teeth because of gum disease or receding gums.
- Wait at least half an hour after meals to brush your teeth to avoid enamel erosion from acid in the food. A stroke or elderly patient who has dexterity issues can use an electric toothbrush rather than a normal one.
Click on page 1 to find out how medications for chronic conditions may affect your dental treatments.