Help Patients Understand the Importance of Their Comprehensive Health History Review


The practice experiences patients regularly complaining about the completion of a new health history form.

Desired Result:

A patient who willingly completes the health history form and understands the link between overall health and their dental health.

How To:

The medical history is a critical tool in treating your dental patient.  Using a comprehensive questionnaire which allows you to further explore the patients past medical history is an important part of the new patient experience and the continuing care visits with the hygiene department.

Begin the patient interviewing process by sincerely thanking the patient for the time and effort they took in thoroughly completing the questionnaire. Use this opportunity to help the patient understand the link between oral health and overall health and wellness. Ask the patient,

How do you feel about your overall health?

Document the patient response using quotation marks and prepare second questions to further explore the response. For example:

“Have you noticed any symptoms, aches or pains?” or “When was your last medical physical?”

Many patients complain about completing the medical history forms, because the doctor and dental team do not spend much time with the information.  Let your patients know how important this information is in treating them properly.

Review the medical history and highlight or flag any yes responses so that they are obvious to the other team members. Update the medical history every six months and have the patient date and sign the update. Explain to the patient why some of these questions are important in dental care.

Add the Medical History Form to your team meeting agenda. At a team meeting, go through your health history form and train the team on why you ask the questions on the form. Help your team be prepared to discuss the link between your health history questions and oral health and prevention.  Common areas to discuss are: Tobacco Use, Diabetes, Heart Attack and Stroke, Medications and their Side Effects, Family History of Gum Disease, Heart Murmur and Artificial Joint Prosthesis, Pregnancy and Hormones, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Stress and Immune Deficiency and Nutrition and Diet.

As you become more confident in linking the medical questions to dental conditions, the patient becomes compliant in your record keeping requests and values more comprehensive dental treatment as a way to stay healthy.