The more your dentist knows about your overall health, the better he will be able to treat you. As the American population ages, dentists are seeing an increasing number of patients with problems like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, AIDS and hypertension. It's important that your dentist know of any health condition you have so that the treatment he administers doesn't compromise any existing condition.
Dentists, of course, are trained to treat patients with other medical conditions. In some cases they will consult with a patient's general physician to devise the proper course of treatment. Generally they will get the information they need by asking questions of their patients.
Dentists also often detect conditions unknown to the patient. For instance, while some 16 million people have diabetes, only about half of them have been diagnosed. It is often during the course of an oral exam that a dentist may notice a symptom that ultimately leads to a diagnosis. So share your complete medical history with your dentist.