Why Dentists Take Blood Pressure

Blood pressure at the dentist

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.

Helping mitigate the risks of high blood pressure

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, 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 anesthetics 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.

Oral health and heart disease: Questions we ask

In addition to checking your blood pressure, we’ll also ask questions to help determine your risk to heart disease and other conditions:

  • Do you have a history of high cholesterol or diabetes? Are these conditions controlled with medication? Do you visit a medical doctor regularly to monitor these conditions?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you suffer from stress?
  • How well and how long do you sleep each night?

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.

Heart diseases cause for concern in dental treatment

Two of the heart conditions that cause us the most concern when providing dental care are:

Atherosclerotic disease

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

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.

Pre-medications are required when performing dental procedures on patients with the following conditions:

  • Artificial heart valves
  • Heart transplants
  • History of infective endocarditis, or heart valve infections
  • Unrepaired congenital defects
  • Repaired defects that were done in the past six months or repairs that were unsuccessful or cause residual issues

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. Schedule your next dental appointment, contact us today!