Why Does the Dentist Take my Blood Pressure?
Why do they always take my blood pressure at the dental office?
If you have visited our practice, you know that the first thing we do when you sit down in the dental chair is take your blood pressure. 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’s the law!
Rule 108.7 of the Texas Administrative Code outlines the Minimum Standard of Care for all dental patients, and it states that the limited physical evaluation of each dental patient must include a measurement of his or her blood pressure and heart rate. At Timberlake Dental, we are not a “Minimum Standard of Care”-type office. We like to go above and beyond the minimum requirements, which state that the blood pressure must be included in the patient’s record at the initial visit and at least once annually. The following two reasons explain why we prefer to stay above the minimum.
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 if we were not 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, we will likely 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, which is a phenomenon in which patients exhibit a blood pressure level above the normal range, in a clinical setting, though they do not exhibit it 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. Unfortunately, we can’t just take your word for it because we are legally 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 office and alert you to anything that could be a concern when you are not in our office.