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Why we screen your blood pressure at the dentist’s office

October 05, 2017
Park Dental Marquette Minneapolis Dentist Joseph Rinaldi
By Joseph F. Rinaldi III, DDS
Park Dental LaSalle Plaza

I once saw a patient to remove one of his molars. Prior to the surgery, a blood pressure screening revealed his was in the vicinity of 190/100 – far too high to undergo any dental procedure.

Before I would operate, I required the patient to get a medical clearance letter from his physician. He complied and we got clearance as they were treating his condition with medications. The patient underwent further diagnostic testing with his physician, and was found to have an adrenal gland tumor. He soon had the tumor surgically removed.

When I saw this patient a few months later, he looked great, had lost a lot of weight and told me with sincerity how good he felt and how grateful he was that I took his condition seriously. Hearing my patient’s remarks was a very rewarding and sobering experience, and it demonstrated why we take our adult patients’ blood pressure at Park Dental.

Screening for high blood pressure, or hypertension, is a valuable service that can play an important role in the overall health of our patients. Because hypertension can lead to heart disease and stroke, the American Dental Association believes the detection, diagnosis and control of hypertension should be a concern of all health care providers, including dentists and members of the dental team.

Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but it can cause health problems if it stays high for a prolonged period of time. When a person has consistently high blood pressure readings, a physician will diagnose hypertension and make recommendations to control it. If a person is in the prehypertension category, major lifestyle changes should be considered to prevent moving into the hypertension category.

Park Dental has developed an educational insert to help motivate our patients to monitor and track their blood pressure. We believe it is our professional responsibility to recognize high readings and inform patients of the category they fall into according to the American Heart Association. Then we can encourage healthy lifestyle habits, and if necessary, refer the patient to their physician for recommendations to control their blood pressure.

Not every dentist out there takes their patients’ blood pressure, but at Park Dental, we believe it’s in your best interest. In most cases, we simply confirm the patient’s blood pressure is normal. For those cases when it isn’t, however, I can speak from my own patient’s experience that the impact can be life changing.

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