Why Do We Check Your Blood Pressure at Some Dental Visits?
Updated: Dec 21, 2021
Dr. Michael J. Klausner, DDS
Some of you may have had your blood pressure checked at your most recent visit to Valley Arts Dental. You may ask, “Why is my blood pressure being taken at the dental office?” It’s a good question and here is the brief answer. You blood pressure varies constantly and this is quite normal. But based upon your medical history or the dental treatment planned for that day, our team will decide if it’s necessary to measure your blood pressure... But why?
EARLY WARNINGS SIGNS
Many of our patients see us more often than they see their physician. Since the symptoms of High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) or Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension) are often subtle, they can go unnoticed. For patients who don’t have physical exams on a regular basis, having blood pressure readings taken during their dental visits makes perfect sense. Such screening can help our patients learn more quickly if their blood pressure is normal or not normal,
If the blood pressure is found to be abnormal, the patient can then schedule an appointment with their doctor and have this further assessed and diagnosed to determine what recommendations, treatment or medication may be required. The sooner a high blood pressure problem is recognized, the better. Hypertension is the biggest risk factor for stroke, heart attack, and dozens of other serious medical issues.
DENTAL PROCEDURE EFFECT ON BLOOD PRESSURE
Multiple situations in a dental office can slightly increase your blood pressure. In an otherwise healthy person, or one with controlled blood pressure, this does not present a problem, But if your blood pressure is at an unhealthy baseline level to begin with, the dental office experience could potentially bring that blood pressure even higher. What type of dental experiences are we talking about?
1) Local anesthesia – Local anesthesia (novocaine) is often key to receiving dental treatment comfortably; but many anesthetics include epinephrine, which helps to increase the numbing effect. But epinephrine also constricts blood vessels, which can in turn raise the blood pressure. Therefore, the dentist may need to change the anesthetic or the dosage if the patient suffers from hypertension.
2) White coat syndrome – Many patients experience what is commonly called ‘White Coat Syndrome.’ This simply means feeling nervous and/or anxious in the presence of a doctor, in this case the dentist. This can result from the feeling of lack of control felt while sitting in a dental chair, the invasion of personal space, the fear of the unknown, or even an unpleasant past dental experience. This nervousness and anxiety can raise the blood pressure. At Valley Arts Dental we recognize these factors and try to personalize our interactions while caring for our patients.
3) Bodily Response to Discomfort - At Valley Arts Dental we already do what we can to make your dental experience as pleasurable as possible. But keeping your mouth open for any length of time, hearing the occasional scraping sounds during a cleaning or the vibration of a dental handpiece, no doubt can be unpleasant. As a result, the body’s physiological response may be to raise the blood pressure to deal with such discomfort.
Our team cares about you and your overall health. If it is time for your next exam and cleaning, please contact the team at Valley Arts Dental to schedule a convenient appointment.
Michael J. Klausner, DDS
Valley Arts Dental, West Orange, NJ