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Designing a Comprehensive Health History (AGD 730)

Presenter: Author: Mary Govoni, CDA, RDA, RDH, MBA


Over the years, the practice of dentistry has evolved from one of a relatively narrow scope, defined by the boundaries of the oral cavity, to one of comprehensive proportions. We now know that a patient’s oral health can greatly affect their overall health status and vice versa. We also know that many medical conditions have oral manifestations that are often the first indicators of systemic disease. In addition, many existing medical conditions have effects on the success or failure of dental treatment.

With these facts in mind, it is apparent that a patient’s health history is one of the most important documents in a dental practice. This document is utilized to assess a patient’s current status, evaluate past history and identify current conditions that may alter treatment plans or delay treatment. The health history also aids the dental team in identifying patients with infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, that can pose serious hazards to the dental team and other patients in a dental practice.


Mary Govoni, CDA, RDA, RDH, MBA is a certified and registered dental assistant and a dental hygienist. She has been involved in dentistry for over 30 years as a chairside assistant, office administrator, clinical hygienist, educator and consultant. She is a  past president of the American Dental Assistants Association, a member of the Office Safety and Asepsis Procedures Research Foundation, the Academy of Dental Management Consultants, the National Speaker's Association and served on the Michigan Board of Dentistry. Mary is President of Clinical Dynamics, providing in-office consulting and seminars for dental teams throughout the country.


Upon completion of this course, the dental professional should be able to:

• Explain the importance of the health history and its relationship to patient treatment.
• Describe ways in which the patient, dentist and physician can communicate and share important information that may affect treatment
of the patient.
• Apply legal requirements for obtaining consent for treatment.
• Identify certain risk management issues, including record keeping and confidentiality, and compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
• Describe techniques used for obtaining a health history.
• Identify the components of a comprehensive health history, including personal information, medical/dental past history, family history, current medical/dental status and medications.
• List sources of information that may be used as references when reviewing a health history. 
• Explain which medical conditions may affect treatment planning.
• Describe the changes that should be made in treating patients with certain medical conditions.
• Summarize the most current guidelines for antibiotic prophylaxis for identifying patients at risk for bacterial endocarditis, and currently
recommended medications/dosages.
• Explain how the CDC Guidelines for Preventing the Transmission of Tuberculosis in Health Care Facilities will affect treatment of patients who have or are suspected of having infectious tuberculosis.
• Discuss how the Americans with Disabilities Act affects the treatment of patients with HIV or AIDS.
• Describe different methods for updating health history and the frequency at which it should be done.


The ADAA has an obligation to disseminate knowledge in the field of dentistry. Sponsorship of a continuing education program by the ADAA does not necessarily imply endorsement of a particular philosophy, product or technique.

The ADAA cautions participants taking this course on the hazards of using limited knowledge when integrating new techniques into their practices.

Credits earned upon completion of this course may be used to meet DANB’s Recertification Requirements.


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