National Blood Pressure Month: How it’s Linked to Dental Care
May is National Blood Pressure Month. Did you know that your blood pressure (BP) and dental work go hand-in-hand? Dentists take your blood pressure to know the appropriate amounts of medicine and anesthetics to prescribe, but your blood pressure is also linked to your dental care in more ways. Here’s how.
Explaining Blood Pressure
Your arteries carry blood away from the heart through the arteries. While it’s going through the arteries, it presses against them. BP is the measurement of just how hard, or not, the blood is pushing against them.
Different Blood Pressure Readings
When your BP is taken, you will see two numbers on your reading:
- Systolic, the top number: this tells you how much pressure your blood is placing on the artery walls as the heart beats.
- Diastolic, the bottom number: this tells you how much pressure your blood places against the artery walls while the heart is resting in between beats.
Your BP will fall in one of five ranges. The American Heart Association explains those ranges:
A normal BP means the systolic is less than 120 and the diastolic is less than 80. Getting a reading in this range is the best you can get. This means that you are more than likely heart healthy, and live a healthy lifestyle (though that isn’t always the case).
An elevated BP reading is when your systolic number is from 121-129 and the diastolic is less than 80. This reading signals that your blood pressure is higher than what is normal, and you should take precautions to bring it back down to prevent high blood pressure.
Hypertension Stage 1
If your BP falls within this stage, it means you consistently fall between the numbers 130-139 systolic and 80-89 diastolic. It’s within this stage that doctors will begin talking to you about lifestyle changes, BP medication, and more to help reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems, like a heart attack or stroke.
Hypertension Stage 2
A BP reading in this category means you need medical attention. This is when your reading is higher than 180 systolic and 120 diastolic. If you take your reading at home and notice this number, the American Heart Association recommends waiting five minutes, and then testing again. If it’s still this high, seek immediate medical attention. Pay attention for signs like chest pain, trouble breathing, back pain, numbness, weakness, changes in vision, or difficulty speaking.
Blood Pressure and Dental Care
If you’ve ever had dental work done, then you most likely had your BP taken. This is important for a number of different reasons.
First off, it’s not abnormal for patients to become stressed before dental work, which can elevate BP. If you already have BP issues, this could lead to serious health problems happening during your dental work like a stroke. If we check your numbers and notice it is alarmingly high, we will consider postponing your dental work until it is under control.
Next, your BP range is important for sedation. Oftentimes in dentistry, we use local anesthesia to help our patients feel comfortable during procedures. However, it’s important to note that many anesthetics contain epinephrine, which constricts blood vessels. In turn, this can cause a higher reading. We use your BP reading as a guide to base the appropriate dosage you can have to keep you safe throughout the entirety of your procedure.
All this to say, your blood pressure can help warn us of any underlying issues with your health that could cause problems while you’re having dental work done. Another bonus is, if you’ve been feeling fine and haven’t been to your primary care physician recently, this is a good time to check up on your blood pressure. Most people see their dentists about twice a year, which means twice a year you are staying up to date on where your BP range currently is.
More BP and Dental Facts
In a study published by Science Daily, poor oral health has been linked to interfering with blood pressure control in those who have hypertension. They say that those with gum disease appear to have worse blood pressure readings as well. Your oral health plays a vital role in your overall health, so be sure to take care of it!
Make an Appointment with Dr. Ania
If you struggle with your blood pressure and have dental issues, Dr. Ania can help you. Make an appointment today to talk with her and her team about your concerns. Don’t forgo dental work because you’re scared or worried, there are steps we can take to help make you as comfortable as possible during your appointment.