Patients sometimes ask why we take their blood pressure at their dental appointments. As has been stated in previous blog entries here at South Waterfront Dental, overall health is very much related to one’s dental health.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the most common medical diagnosis in the United States, affecting over 30% of Americans. Symptoms can include headaches, vision problems, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, and chest pain. However, you can have high blood pressure without exhibiting any symptoms at all. The good news is that high blood pressure can often be controlled through dietary changes, increased exercise, and smoking cessation.
Because of its prevalence and because people generally see Dr. Beck or Dr. Morrow more often than their regular physicians, the American Dental Association recommends that dental professionals take blood pressure readings on all new patients and annually on recall patients.
Dentists need to know if patients are hypertensive because elevated blood pressure can increase the risk of stroke or heart attack in the dental chair. Additionally, most local anesthetics used in routine dental procedures contain epinephrine or other vasoconstrictors that can increase blood pressure and rarely cause arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.
It’s also essential that we know about a patient’s hypertension due to increased risk to dental health. Medications that are often used in the treatment of high blood pressure may cause dry mouth, which can result in an increase of plaque and the risk of gum disease, effecting the overall health of a patient’s teeth.
For these reasons, Dr. Beck and Dr. Morrow at South Waterfront Dental feel it is important that every patient have their blood pressure measured at their dental appointments. If patients are found to be hypertensive while visiting South Waterfront Dental, we can be refer them to their regular physicians for a definitive diagnosis and treatment.