Why Does Your Dentist Take Your Blood Pressure?

dental_healthBlood pressure is an easy way to measure how healthy your heart and arteries are. “Because most people see their dentist at least twice a year, taking your blood pressure helps the dentist see the big picture of your health, “ says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix cosmetic dentistry office.  Is your blood pressure higher every time you see the dentist? Your dentist may refer you to a physician if your blood pressure is consistently too high.

While it’s true that some people’s blood pressure rises out of fear when they step into a clinic (including the dentist’s office), the rise is temporary and not damaging over time.

If you already know you have high blood pressure, you should tell your dentist when you go for your first visit after you discover your hypertension (high blood pressure.) “Medication can make a big difference to your mouth and gums,” says Dr. Ford, “and your dentist should be kept informed about all the drugs you take.

The website WebMD warns that “Some high blood pressure drugs can cause dry mouth or alter your sense of taste.” Dry mouth is a major cause of plaque growth; dry mouth means you’ll need to take more care brushing and flossing your teeth if you take those drugs.

WebMD also alerts [that] use of blood pressure medicines containing “calcium channel blockers in particular can cause your gum tissue to swell and overgrow, resulting in chewing difficulties.”  Dr. Ford advises that “gum overgrowth is not uncommon, but you will need specific oral hygiene care, and we may suggest coming in more frequently to see the hygienist for additional help in reducing plaque and tartar.”

If you are on medication for hypertension, tell your dentist. Your dentist may want to develop a different anesthetic plan for you, as some local anesthetics can raise your blood pressure temporarily. Your dentist is an important part of your overall healthcare, but it takes both patient and dentist to make the team work.

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