What does BP have to do with my teeth?

Have you ever wondered why you have your blood pressure taken at your dental visit? This may seem unnecessary and not pertinent to having your teeth cleaned, but in fact it may be more important than you think.

Many times patients will visit their dentist more often than their physician. Twice a year, sometimes more, to the dental office versus only when you’re sick, or every few years, with the physician’s office. So strictly based on this alone, you’re more likely to detect a blood pressure abnormality at your visit to the dentist than with your primary care physician. Besides this however, there are other reasons why it’s important to take your blood pressure at your dental visits.


Periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease have a close correlation to each other. Poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease contribute to heart disease. The inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease cause stress on the heart, damage blood vessels so they are not as stretchy, and cause the body to be in a constant “stressed” state due to the release of inflammatory chemicals. Therefore, if you’re frequently visiting the hygienist to manage periodontal disease, you’re already at risk cardiovascular complications and monitoring your blood pressure is very important.


Another reason to check your blood pressure at the dental office is to determine a baseline blood pressure before any treatment. Certainly the anxiety of dental treatment for some can lead to significant, fortunately temporary, increases in blood pressure. And if your blood pressure is already really high and uncontrolled, precautions may be needed before receiving treatment.


On the contrary though, too low of a blood pressure could be an issue too. If you’re taking medication to control your blood pressure, sometimes the medication can cause your resting blood pressure to be very low. In addition some medications will also block a normal body reflex needed to compensate for drops in blood pressure. These two factors combined can cause a dizzy and light headed feeling, and even lead to fainting when drastically changing body position, such as with standing up quickly or going from flat position to an upright position.


These are just a few considerations of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and blood pressure mediation that can have an impact on your dental health management. Be sure to ask your dentist or dental hygienist about your current periodontal condition and how it may be affecting your cardiovascular health, and notify them of any medications, both prescription and over the counter, you’re taking.