Why Dental Professionals Take Blood Pressure

When dental professionals take their patient’s blood pressure, they may not always realize that some patients have absolutley no idea why it is being done, or what the implications can mean for both their oral and general health. As hypertension continues to affect 66.9 million Americans—making it the most common medical condition known today—it is important for the dental profession to relay to their patients the reasons why blood pressure should be taken in the dental office.[1]
The following are recent facts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) about this condition and its relation to the general public:
  • 53.5% of U.S. adults have uncontrolled hypertension (about 35.8 million people).
  • 39.4% of U.S. adults with uncontrolled hypertension (about 14.1 million) are unaware that they have hypertension.
  • 89.4% with uncontrolled hypertension have a “usual source of health care and insurance, representing a missed opportunity for hypertension control.”
Fittingly, that last point adequately depicts the reasons why Americans need to have additional resources (outside from their regular physician) that are able to sufficiently diagnose, if not treat, this growing disease. Even if they have insurance like the statistic suggests, they still are not getting the information they need (for whatever reason[s]), so having dental professionals help detect this condition will ultimately create more awareness, if nothing else.
The following are a few of the main reasons why dentists should already take their patient’s blood pressure:
  • When the systolic pressure goes above 160mm or the diastolic goes above 100mm, the risk becomes much higher for dentists to perform any kind of dental procedures. (A normal/healthy reading is 120mm systolic over 80mm diastolic).
  • 34% of people who are on medication still report having poorly controlled blood pressure, which means they are at a greater risk of experiencing a stroke or heart attack during a dental procedure if their blood pressure escalates.
  • Some medications (especially those related to blood pressure) can have negative consequences on the patient’s oral health; some can cause dry mouth—which may lead to decay/dental caries—while others can cause light-headedness, which may result in the patient passing out after standing up or laying back in the dental chair.
  • Even those patients who take medicine specifically for hypertension, their dentist needs to confirm the medication is indeed working the way it should, and is in a safe range to receive other types of treatments and/or prescriptions.
To learn more about this topic and/or earn CE credit , check out the course below by Margaret J. Fehrenbach, RDH:
“Blood Pressure Issues in the Dental Office”

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