National Blood Pressure Month – The Link Between Hypertension and Oral Health

Hypertension and Oral HealthHypertension and oral health, they are linked more than you might realize.

Did you know that high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, can affect what kind of oral healthcare you can receive? In fact, most dentists will avoid performing dental treatments on patients with hypertension. In particular, those with high blood pressure will have to consult their medical doctor first before they can receive oral healthcare.

What Is High Blood Pressure?

The average adult normally has a blood pressure reading of 120 below 80. Any bit higher or lower than that is still considered normal. However, if your readings are found consistently and considerably higher than 120/80, then you may be suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension.

What exactly causes hypertension is not yet known. However, researchers and studies have found the risk factors and conditions over the years. This includes smoking, being overweight or obese, lack of physical activity, stress, age, genetics, sleep apnea and so much more.

If left untreated, high blood pressure is dangerous and can be fatal. Because it causes the heart to work much harder than it should be, it can lead to atherosclerosis or the hardening of the arteries. Hypertension has also been linked to stroke, kidney disease, and heart failure.

How Hypertension Affects Your Oral Health

The main concern dentists have with hypertension patients is that they may experience a stroke while sitting in the dental chair. Having high blood pressure also means that they are at risk when local anesthetics that use vasoconstrictors (epinephrines) are used. This is because such medication can increase blood pressure.

The medication for high blood pressure has also been shown to have many side effects. This includes dry mouth and an altered sense of taste. The former is dangerous because a dry mouth can increase a patient’s risk for tooth decay and other oral complications.

Certain medications also put patients at risk of suddenly fainting when standing or sitting up quickly.

There are also certain high blood pressure medications that can create gum overgrowth. This can affect a patient’s ability to chew. In some cases, the gums can grow so large that the only choice is to have them removed surgically, which only complicates things even further.

As you can see, the relationship between hypertension and oral health is quite complicated.

Visiting Your Dentist

Don’t worry too much, though. Most dentists will not refuse to see you outright if you have hypertension or high blood pressure. In fact, many patients who have high blood pressure can still undergo dental procedures normally. Some even receive local anesthetics safely and take anti-anxiety medications for sedation. The only time most dentists will refuse to treat patients who have high blood pressure is if their number are already in Stage 1 or higher range.

It is important, however, that you are completely honest with your dentist. If you’re suffering from hypertension, talk to your dentist about your condition. Tell him or her any medication you’re taking, and your current status. Your dentist will be more than glad to if you’re still eligible for standard oral care treatment. Call for an appointment today for an oral health exam at 336-282-2868 or