July 28, 2017
By Dr. Keith Libou, Chief Clinical Officer
High blood pressure is a silent killer. It is responsible for increased risks of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and many other serious health problems (not to mention being a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea).
Dentistry is unique among the health professions. Not only is virtually every visit invasive in some way, but local anesthetics are frequently used that can have cardiovascular effects. Combined with the anxiety many dental patients experience that can result in transient elevated blood pressure, the importance of taking blood pressure is clear, not only to be able to provide safe dental treatment, but to identify patients who have undiagnosed high blood pressure.
Over the past several years, I have asked key decision makers from various employer groups, as well as our own employees, whether they have had their blood pressure taken by their dentist, and their overwhelming response is either “no,” or maybe just a few have (recognizing that there are dentists who routinely take blood pressure readings at every visit).
With national issues looming for the profession, such as mid-level providers and independent practice of dental hygienists, there is an opportunity for dentists, who are the primary care providers of oral health, to make a big impact, so take out that blood pressure cuff and pump it up!
About the Author: Dr. Keith Libou is Chief Clinical Officer at Delta Dental of New Jersey and Connecticut.