People are surprised when they come in for a “routine” cleaning and checkup and we take their blood pressure. But there’s a good reason why we do it.

Recently, we measured a patient to have a blood pressure of 171/108. When I asked him when he had his last medical checkup, he proudly informed me that it was just a few months ago. “The doctor told me
I should take blood pressure medication,” he said, “but I’m controlling my high blood pressure by eating oatmeal for breakfast!” Obviously, even though Quaker™ Oats is proud of the claim that oatmeal, which is high in potassium, can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, you cannot use oatmeal to treat high blood pressure.

According to the American Heart Association, hypertension (blood pressure classified as 140/90 mmHg or above) is the most common primary diagnosis in the United States, affecting nearly one out of every three Americans, and it is still the leading cause of death in the country. Hypertension is a major risk factor associated with many cardiovascular diseases and plays a significant role in the progression of congestive heart failure, stroke, heart attacks, kidney failure, and premature death. Factors that contribute to the prevalence of hypertension are smoking, stress, drugs,
alcohol, poor nutrition, diabetes, obesity, and limited physical activity. Because hypertension has become a prevalent concomitant condition, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that all dentists be involved in the detection and management of hypertension, and that dental offices take blood pressure at all checkups. Americans generally make regular visits to the dentists, but much fewer visits to their MD, and thus for many people dental appointments are an important – and maybe the only – opportunity to have their blood pressure checked.

Some important facts about high blood pressure:

High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the most prevalent, yet often undiagnosed conditions in the U.S. today. One in three people in the U.S., and 60 percent of diabetics, have high blood pressure.

Often, patients with high blood pressure haveno symptoms until they suffer
a stroke or heart attack.

Today, our equipment is so advanced that we can measure blood pressure without the need to roll up the shirt or blouse. And unlike many inexpensive devices which are not certified and have poor accuracy, our advanced automated blood pressure devices are certified and have passed the AAMI validation.

So the next time your dentist takes your blood pressure, don’t be surprised. He’s doing you a favor.