In Good Form: Why the Dentist Needs All That Paperwork

Medical forms

It’s a familiar scene at pretty much any medical appointment. No matter if you’re a new patient or have been going to the same practitioner for years, most likely you’re going to be asked to fill out your fair share of forms before your appointment. So, why does your dentist need so much information? Here’s a quick guide to what information your dentist needs, and why.

Patient Information

This basic information section covers everything from your name, address, phone, email and even your Social Security number (SSN). Why do we need your SSN? Many patients’ SSN are tied to their dental insurance. To process insurance claims, your dentist needs to provide that information to your insurer.

On Dr. George’s forms, we also ask about marital status. Dental insurance, emergency contact information and referral information can all be tied to marital status. It is also becoming more frequent for dentists to screen patients for signs of domestic violence at dental exams.

We also ask about your employer, as your employer may be tied to your insurance plan as well. And of course, we ask for your full insurance information so we can complete the billing process.

Health History

The next paper you will be asked to fill out is your health history form. This will help us determine the best way to treat any dental issues present, but also can help explain some dental problems. For example, if you indicate that you have GERD, we will know to check your teeth for enamel erosion.

Information such as your height and weight are important to have in case we need to order a prescription or provide anesthesia. Having accurate information helps ensure you get the correct dosage, so please be honest when filling out your medical history!

Next, we will ask if you have experienced any dental issues in the past, such as bleeding gums, dry mouth, or if you’ve had any orthodontic or periodontal treatments before. This helps us better understand your mouth and if there are any special circumstances to consider when treating you. Often, we can address these issues with prescription mouthwashes or toothpaste, or can take a closer look at an indicated problem area.

Medical Information

This is another important section of your paperwork. Your medical history may not seem important to your dentist, but it really is. This helps us understand which medications you may be on and which medications or materials you may be allergic to. Having a full understanding of your medical history can help prevent us from misdiagnosing a problem or prescribing a medication that might counteract with medicines you are already taking.

Often patients may be shy about indicating they have a medical problem or may fear that revealing this diagnosis will change their quality of care, but this is not the case. We want to make sure you are safe and comfortable, and these forms help us make that happen. For example, a patient with osteoporosis may have a higher risk of periodontitis, and patients who are pregnant or nursing should hold off on X-rays. There are many different types of conditions that require special care. Don’t be afraid to be honest on these forms, as it could truly save your life.

Financial Information

We ask patients to read and sign off that they understand our policies regarding payments, cancellation and missed appointments to both understand how we process payments and to avoid accruing any penalties due to a misunderstanding. Remember, patients can always request a copy of these policies if they would like one to keep for reference, and all forms are available on Dr. George’s website for easy access at home. Whether you’re a new patient or a longtime patient, please feel free to print and complete them ahead of your appointment.

If you have any questions about any of the information in Dr. George’s forms, or if you’d like to set up an appointment, please give our office a call at 724-934-3422.

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on August 16th, 2017