Why do Dental Offices Take Your Blood Pressure?

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You may feel like a lot goes on during your regular dental appointments. In preparation for your treatment, you may be wondering why taking your blood pressure is on the agenda. Don’t worry, it is not an unusual practice. Taking your blood pressure is often a key health check, as what’s going on in your body also affects the health of your mouth! This is particularly important, as the symptoms of hypertension can often be silent even though it is causing great harm to your health.

Taking your blood pressure regularly not only establishes your baseline pressure for future monitoring, but also helps determine if you are healthy enough to undergo your scheduled procedure. In addition, it can help your dental professional determine what type of dental anesthetic can be used, if any. Dental anesthetics are often used in certain dental procedures to help provide a comfortable and safe treatment. Dental anesthesia can affect your blood pressure, in particular anesthetics with epinephrine can constrict blood vessels and lead to an increase in blood pressure. Most importantly, monitoring blood pressure may save your life. Chronic high blood pressure left untreated can increase the likelihood of suffering from serious health issues, including heart attacks and strokes.

Common risk factors of high blood pressure are high cholesterol, diabetes, unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, hormone imbalances, kidney issues, and tobacco use. Reported by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, the national blood pressure guidelines include:

It is important to inform your dental professionals of any health conditions, including high blood pressure (hypertension) and any medications being taken to ensure that you have the most appropriate and safest treatment plan for your specific needs. If experiencing extremely high blood pressure, your dentist may refer you to immediately visit with your primary doctor for evaluation. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, blood pressure medication or a change in medication if currently taking blood pressure medications.

Whether or not your dental professional will be able to precede with your dental treatment following a high blood pressure reading will depend on several factors, such as the dental procedure needed to be performed, the severity of high blood pressure, and current medical conditions and medications, for example. Often, if your blood pressure reading marks 140/90 or higher, you may not be able to undergo any planned dental treatment until after the high blood pressure has been managed. A high blood pressure reading may be an indication of pain, anxiety, or an underlying health condition. In some cases, your dental professional may require medical approval from your physician prior to being able to perform dental procedures.

Your blood pressure and oral health are more related than you may think. Research has suggested that oral issues like gum disease may be linked to increased risks of systemic issues like cardiovascular disease, and vice versa. In fact, oral bacteria can travel into other parts of the body through the bloodstream. This can lead to an inflammatory response affecting the heart and blood vessels. It is truly important to maintain good oral hygiene not just for your teeth, but for the health of the rest of your body. Continue to keep up with your routine dental checkups, which allows your dental professional to keep your health on track.

Monitoring blood pressure is another step to the process of maintaining good oral health and overall well-being. Prevention is the best method to help avoid serious health problems, which is why blood pressure screenings are essential.