Did you know? About 80 million Americans have hypertension, or high blood pressure, and it’s estimated that more than 17 percent of them go undiagnosed.
If you’ve been to the dentist recently and had your blood pressure checked as part of a routine exam, you may be wondering why the reading is important to your dentist and your oral health. While it’s true that poor oral health can lead to health conditions, including heart disease, dentists often check a patient’s blood pressure as a precautionary measure and as a way to measure a person’s risk of diseases.
Oftentimes people see their dentist more frequently than a medical doctor, giving dental providers the opportunity to help patients identify risk factors and get the medical attention they need.
At Govani Dental, LLC, we take a baseline blood pressure reading during exam and cleaning appointments as well as during dental treatment visits. Our staff not only wants you to get proper medical care, we also want to ensure your safety during your dental appointment. Many patients are unaware of the risks a local anesthetic can have on patients who suffer from high blood pressure. These medications have ingredients that can spike blood pressure and therefore not be safe if your blood pressure is not controlled. When we are aware of these risks, we will consider other, lower-risk options during treatment.
In addition to checking your blood pressure, we’ll also ask questions to help determine your risk to heart disease and other conditions:
Because there is a link between poor oral health and heart disease, we will also ask about how well you care for your gums and teeth.
It’s critical to be honest with dental providers when asked about your health history or changes to your health. We are here to keep you safe and ensure you get the care you need.
Two of the heart conditions that cause us the most concern when providing dental care are:
Atherosclerotic disease, or hardening of the arteries. This can reduce blood flow to the brain and extremities, causing chest pain, a heart attack, stroke or heart failure. As a dental provider, we want this issue controlled and stable before providing care.
Heart arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats. It may cause light headedness, heart flutters, and heartbeats that feel either faster or slower than normal. This condition may be dangerous if not controlled by your medical doctor. It may also be unsafe for us to give those who suffer from heart arrhythmias certain dental anesthetics.
Also, pre-medications are required when performing dental procedures on patients with the following conditions:
As you can see, there are many reasons why a dentist takes blood pressure readings and asks about your health history. If you have a family history of heart disease or are concerned about your heart health, please see your physician. The more we know, the safer you will be while in our care!