One of the most common questions I get asked by patients is, “Why are you taking my blood pressure?” People are confused because most have never had their blood pressure taken at a dental office before and they think it’s strange. I totally understand!
Blood pressure checks before a dental appointment are now recommended, so if you’ve never experienced this before, don’t worry. It’s not specific to you, it’s something we’re doing for everyone! The main thing we’re checking for is hypertension, a very common — but serious — heart condition where the force of the blood against your artery walls is too high, putting you at risk for future health problems, like heart disease.
There are a few reasons why dentists are starting to slow down and check their patients for hypertension before starting any treatments… even a routine cleaning:
Reason #1 – It’s a Good Opportunity to Screen Patients
If you’re keeping consistent with your six-month dental checkups, we might see you more often than any other health professional. The truth is, many of us are guilty of skipping our yearly physicals. If you’re here anyway, we might as well screen you for hypertension. If we can catch it early, you can take steps to reverse it before it becomes a more serious issue!
We also see a lot of pregnant patients at Inspire Dental Wellness. Even though they see their OBGYN every few weeks, I have heard of dentists catching issues like preeclampsia during a routine blood pressure check. What if that one little action leads to a healthier mom and baby? It’s totally worth taking a few extra minutes to check.
Reason #2 – Stress Could Elevate It Further
Many people experience a spike in anxiety or stress during their dental appointment. If you have hypertension already, this additional stress could elevate your blood pressure to a dangerous level. It could potentially even trigger a stroke, heart attack, or aneurysm. Of course, we want to avoid this at all costs. If we take your blood pressure and feel it’s too elevated to proceed, we may decide to delay your procedure and refer you to your physician for further evaluation. Better safe than sorry!
For most patients, though, we can help manage their stress with some breathing techniques or offer them some relaxation options to help them feel more comfortable.
Reason #3 – Anesthesia Can Elevate Blood Pressure
Several of the procedures that we do in-office call for a local anesthesia. Administering this is often extremely safe, but if you have hypertension, it could lead to a more serious issue.
Some of the more common anesthetics we use contain epinephrine, which has been shown to constrict the blood vessels. This elevates your blood pressure slightly. If your blood pressure is already very high, it has the potential to lead to a medical emergency. We absolutely must check your blood pressure before administering any anesthesia so we can adjust your dose, provide an alternate option, or even delay treatment.
Dr. Erica Zolnierczyk and the team at Inspire Dental Wellness want to keep you healthy and of course, keep your smile shining bright. We believe that listening to our patients and taking the time to do simple things, like blood pressure screenings, will help us provide you with the best care possible. If you would like to schedule your next appointment, you can give us a call at 708-460-6699 or request an appointment online.