If you've recently been diagnosed with Hepatitis B or C, you may be wondering how to broach this conversation to the people in your life who could potentially be affected -- from a spouse or close family members to your work supervisor (if you work in the healthcare or food service industries) and even other medical providers. While revealing your status to people like your dentist and hygienist can sometimes seem an embarrassing prospect, forgoing routine dental care or hiding your condition can present even worse outcomes. Read on to learn more about approaching this intimate conversation with your dentist, as well as what you should keep in mind while seeking dental care after your diagnosis.
When should you tell your dentist about your Hepatitis B or C diagnosis?
For situations in which it's already been a while since your last cleaning at the time of your diagnosis, you'll want to contact your dentist's office relatively quickly. Although you don't necessarily have to inform your dentist's receptionist of this new development over the phone, getting a cleaning scheduled is important. The more bacteria permitted to build up on or between your teeth, the higher your odds of developing a gum infection or inflammation like gingivitis, which can put a strain on your already-overloaded immune system.
Once you've arrived at your appointment, you may want to discreetly inform the receptionist that you have another health issue to discuss with the dentist, or even slip a note while signing in if others are in within earshot in the waiting room. Although your dentist and staff should be taking all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of blood-borne pathogens like Hepatitis and HIV regardless of the status of any individual patients, letting your dentist know your status before he or she gloves up can give you the opportunity to ask any questions about what this can mean for your dental health as well as give your dentist a better idea of the pros and cons of the various treatment paths he or she may recommend.
What should you know about seeking dental care after being diagnosed with Hepatitis?
Now more than ever, it's important to schedule regular cleanings and checkups with your dentist. Allowing minor tooth decay to continue unabated may put your gums and even jaw bones at risk of infection, straining your immune system as your white blood cells struggle to multitask. By performing cleanings on a regular basis and filling in any cavities (or even performing extractions) as necessary, your dentist can help you maintain a strong and healthy mouth even while dealing with other health issues.