According to the FDA, “nearly half, more than 119 million, American adults have high blood pressure. But only about 1 in 4 of those people have their condition under control. Many people develop high blood pressure when they are in their late 30’s or early 40’s, and it occurs more frequently as people age. However, because of the obesity epidemic, more and more children are also developing high blood pressure.” High blood pressure often goes undiagnosed as it is largely without symptoms until the damage it causes is much more serious. As a matter of fact, high blood pressure is often referred to as “the Silent Killer” due to the lack of significant symptoms.

The Mayo Clinic recommends regular blood pressure screenings for any person over the age of 18 years of age, what better opportunity than at your dental visit? It is not an unknown fact that most people see their dentist more frequently than they see their primary care physician. Most of our patients see us every 4-6 months (even I don’t see my doctor but once a year), so that means we are often the first provider to see an elevated blood pressure!

A normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 and considered high if you have a reading of 130/90 or higher on at least 2 occasions. As you can see, there is not a big difference between ‘normal’ and ‘high’ and even though the damage has already begun with this small change, you will have no symptoms. High blood pressure significantly increases your risk for heart disease, heart failure, stroke and is especially harmful on the brain, eyes, kidneys and pregnancy. It is the most treatable condition that leads to premature morbidity and mortality, as well as one of the easiest medical conditions to treat and control! The sooner this condition is diagnosed and controlled, the more opportunity there is to prevent irreversible damage. I am often told by patients that they “didn’t even know they had high blood pressure”, many of them report even feeling better after starting the medications.

We obtain blood pressure in our office not just for the above reasons, but because dentistry is stressful for YOU! Stress also temporarily increases the blood pressure initiating our body’s “fight or flight” response. This system is meant to allow your body to defend itself against a threat by means of confrontation or flee and is designed only for very short spurts…….dental appointments are not usually short. A blood pressure reading of 180/110 can be fatally high, and you are considered in a hypertensive crisis at this level. Your dental appointment, whether its large or small, short or long, is never worth this medical risk! While many of you are inconvenienced by the inability to treat you due to your high blood pressure, I am still very proud that our office is frequently the front-runner in diagnosing your condition.

Now to answer your question, “Dr. Moody, why do you care about my blood pressure?”. It’s simply answered….. BECAUSE I CARE ABOUT YOU! I care about your overall health and your well-being and not just about your teeth!!!