What Blood Pressure is Too High for Dental Treatments

What Blood Pressure is Too High for Dental Treatments

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is one of the most common cardiovascular conditions in the country. In 2019, hypertension played a role in more than 500,000 deaths in the United States. High blood pressure raises your risk of heart attack and stroke, both of which are leading causes of death. It can also cause kidney damage and even result in vision loss. You’re probably accustomed to getting your blood pressure taken by your doctor, but chances are your routine dental appointments now include blood pressure checks, too. Here’s what you need to know.  


Why does my dentist take my blood pressure?

Certain medications or dental procedures can cause spikes in blood pressure, and for people with hypertension, these spikes can lead to serious health problems. Your dentist oversees your oral health, but your overall health is important to them too. Below, we’ve listed a few reasons blood pressure checks are now a part of most routine dental appointments.  Although you may not see a direct connection to dental work in each one, it may help to remember that your oral health and overall health are inextricably linked.  

  • Blood pressure increases during stressful times, including during dental work. For someone with dental anxiety, just sitting in the waiting room can cause a rise in blood pressure. It’s important for the dental practitioner to know about a patient’s high blood pressure before beginning any procedures.
  • Certain local anesthesias constrict blood vessels, which raises blood pressure.  For those who already have hypertension, this can result in dangerous and even life-threatening conditions. If high blood pressure is detected prior to the procedure, the anesthesia may need to be changed or adjusted. 
  • Blood pressure screenings at the dentist’s office can prevent serious cardiovascular complications, not only by avoiding the blood pressure spikes associated with certain procedures and medications, but also by alerting the patient to a condition that needs attention. Regular six-month visits to your dentist provide a great way to monitor your blood pressure. If your dentist detects high blood pressure, they can help facilitate the next steps toward bringing your blood pressure down and optimizing your health.
  • In addition to preventing serious problems with cardiovascular health, blood pressure screenings can also point toward other potential health issues associated with high blood pressure, including diabetes or preeclampsia in pregnant women.  Regular monitoring helps to catch potential problems before they cause damage.  

Blood pressure screenings are an important part of ensuring you’re in good health—both in general and prior to any dental work. 


What happens if my blood pressure is too high for dental work?

According to the American Dental Association, elevated blood pressure is defined as a systolic pressure of 120-129 mmHg and a diastolic blood pressure of less than 80 mmHg. Hypertension is defined as a systolic pressure of 130 mmHg or greater or a diastolic blood pressure of 80 mmHg or greater. A person is considered to be in hypertensive crisis with a systolic pressure greater than 180 mmHg and/or diastolic pressure greater than 120 mmHg. 

If your blood pressure reads at 180/110 or greater, it may be necessary to postpone treatment in order to avoid any complications that could arise from the use of anesthetics. You may need to work with a physician to get your blood pressure down to a safer level before treatment can be resumed. Anyone in hypertensive crisis will be immediately referred to emergency care. 


You matter to us. Let’s work together to keep you healthy, safe, and comfortable. 

At University Dental, we’re here to help improve the function and beauty of your smile, but we’re also committed to your overall health. We perform blood pressure screenings and other diagnostics to help catch small problems before they become big problems. If you’re looking for a highly skilled and compassionate dentist who values your health, safety, and comfort, give us a call at (619) 582-4224 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hage today.