Maria Ambra, RDH
Coping With a Medical Emergency
“Why are you asking me so many personal questions about my health? Are you my medical physician?”
“What does my blood pressure or my diabetes have to do with my cleaning?”
Several times during the day, as Dental Hygienists, we experience scenarios where patients ask these types of questions. Some patients believe that there is no correlation between the dental visit and their medical conditions.
Medical emergencies can occur when we least expect them; before, during or after dental procedures, especially when there is an underlying medical condition. Reviewing a complete medical history at each dental visit is the best way to be prepared or possibly prevent an emergency. It’s always prudent for us to ask you questions, or your physicians if you unsure why you take certain medications, to see if a medical conditions could impact dental treatment.
As dental hygienists, it is critical to evaluate the your current physical state, while a dental hygiene procedure is in progress. Either a simple prophylaxis or a Scale Root Planning, monitoring the your behavior during the dental visit is very important.
Some of the most common medical emergencies seen in dental offices are:
- LOCAL ANESTHESTIC REACTION:
Local anesthetic reaction occurs when blood levels of anesthetic are too high or if the patient is allergic to components of the anesthetic (Sulfites). It is important for us to know what medications you are allergic to.
- SYNCOPE OR FAINTING:
Syncope is the result from the loss of blood flow to the brain and can affect anyone of any age at any time.
- BLOOD GLUCOSE DISORDER:
Blood glucose disorders can occur in diabetic patients that can experience either Hyperglycemia or Hypoglycemia. It is important for us to ask the you your current HbA1C level.
Hyperventilation is abnormal, rapid breathing that decreases carbon dioxide levels in the blood usually caused by anxiety. Keeping open communication with us on your anxiety levels can help us avoid this. There are several things you can talk to the Dentist about to help reduce your anxiety.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath and wheezing. It is important for us to know if you have asthma, and important for you to bring your inhaler to your appointments.
- BLOOD PRESSURE:
Blood Pressure monitoring is also very important before any dental procedure. Some people are most often not aware of any blood pressure conditions they might have. It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly. If your medical physician tells you that you have high or low blood pressure, it is important for us to you so that it may not hinder any dental treatment. It is also important and you take your medication as prescribed, especially before any dental procedures. We take your blood pressure before giving your anesthetic to reduce your risk of a medical emergency.
Want to learn more? Visit us at
American Academy of Allergy www.aaaai.org
The Anaphylaxis Campaign www.anaphylaxis.org
American College of Physician-American Society of Internal Medicine. www.acponline.org.