New ADA president asks patients to reveal more about their meds to their dentist

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Recently appointed Australian Dental Association president Dr Stephen Liew has issued a warning that given two thirds of us regularly take complementary medicines, patients need to be more open about what medications and supplements they’re taking.

Studies show that certain supplements and herbal remedies like turmeric, ginger, garlic, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, glucosamine, evening primrose oil and fish oil have been identified as having the potential to increase the risk of patient bleeding.

There are also increased bleeding risks for some prescription medications such as anti-depressants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and blood thinners. 

“Dentists sometimes treat people without knowing the full range of prescription, complementary or over-the-counter medications patients are taking as many Australians aren’t aware of the importance of sharing this vital information with their clinician,” said the Melbourne dentist who has just begun his new role as the youngest ever ADA president.

“This can be problematic when we perform a procedure where bleeding needs to be controlled, such as a tooth extraction.

“It also emphasises the vital reason dentists take a full medical history during the patient’s first visit, where as much information as possible is provided to them so they get the full picture—including family history, past operations and procedures, illnesses and current and previous medications.

“These all play a vital role in allowing your dentist to provide safe and personalised care. It’s about an open and trusting relationship between clinician and patient—and that being as transparent as possible for their own benefit.

“So we’re asking people to come to their dental appointments armed with as much information as they can—it will help with their overall experience.”

ADA members receive regular training and updates in how medicines of all types act in the body and interact with one another. They’re also provided with access to a consultant pharmacist who can respond to individual situations so that once a full patient picture is provided, a risk assessment can be calculated according to best practice recommendations.

“Sometimes that may mean advising the patient to come off a certain medication for a period—in consultation with their doctor—in the run-up to a dental procedure which could result in bleeding,” Dr Liew said. 

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