Why do they check my blood pressure at the dentist?
If you have visited our practice, you are not surprised that your blood pressure may be checked by our dental assistants, dental hygienists or dentists. If the measurement is nor “normal”, we will point this out to you. Sometimes we are questioned about this, and we always want to be able to adequately answer our patients’ questions. There are three main reasons we regularly take your blood pressure, which are listed and elaborated on below.
It protects you! The medications and procedures involved in dental visits can cause in increase in blood pressure and heart rate. We know that going to the dentist can be very stressful for some people. Fear or anxiety may cause a patient’s blood pressure to be elevated before he or she even walks in our doors. The sensations of something as straightforward as a dental cleaning can increase the stress on an already-anxious patient. The ingredients in the local anesthetic used to numb your teeth and gums for dental work can cause the heart rate and blood pressure to go up even more. All of these factors could be the perfect storm for a medical emergency. We always keep our patients’ safety as our highest priority. For this reason, we commit to be diligent in measuring and recording your blood pressure before, and sometimes even throughout, a dental procedure.
We genuinely care about you! Our second reason implies that we don’t want you having a heart attack or stroke on our watch, and we don’t! We don’t want you having a heart attack or stroke anywhere. Emergencies are not always preventable, so we want to take advantage of every preventive opportunity we are given. If your blood pressure is recorded as consistently high when you visit our office, we will recommend that you see your physician. The American Heart Association outlines exactly which blood pressure measurements are considered dangerous. Don’t wait until you have a crisis to do something about your high blood pressure!
White Coat Syndrome
Many patients exhibit white coat syndrome. This is a phenomenon in which patients exhibit a blood pressure level above the normal range, in a clinical setting, and normal blood pressure levels at home or in other settings. The key to white coat syndrome is that the blood pressure is only high at the doctor or dentist and measures normal in another setting. This requires the measurement of your blood pressure in multiple different settings. Unfortunately, we can’t just take your word for it because we are held to account by the measurements recorded in our dental records.
If you find yourself in this situation, please discuss your concerns with us and be open to working with your physician. We have had great success in reducing white coat syndrome with a wide variety of therapies and medications, including meditation, breathing techniques, laughing gas, or anti-anxiety medications prescribed by your physician.
Our goal is always to take the best possible care of you in our offices and alert you to anything that could be a concern when you are not in our office.
Have you put off dental work because of your high blood pressure?
Due to the links between heart disease and problems with your teeth and gums, it is not safe for you to put off needed dental work. The dental problems actually make your risk for heart problems go up!
Schedule a consultation with our dentists to discuss what dental treatment you need and how we can help you manage your blood pressure. It may require a consultation with your medical doctor in order to get started.
Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell! Our kind and caring staff will put you at ease and help you get started on the path back to good health.