By Dr. Richard Wolfert, DMD
The Toothboss,

For more than a few people, a trip to the dentist can raise their blood pressure. If that fear/anxiety raises your blood pressure to pre-hypertension levels—120-139 Systolic and greater than 80 Diastolic—then it might be risky treating that patient. That’s why at our practice, The Toothboss at 1121 Main Street in South Weymouth, we offer blood pressure screening as part of the comprehensive annual exam for patients.

There are many reasons for doing a BP screening as part of a dental exam. Besides normal anxiety, some of the procedures we do utilize pharmacologies that can impact blood pressure. So having an accurate read prior to the start of treatment is extremely important, particularly if the patient has high blood pressure or is on medication for it.

The other part is that many people are unaware that they have high blood pressure, largely because they don’t get an annual check-up with their physician. A visit to the dentist should not replace that, but checking BP as part of the exam can alert patients to a potential problem.”

Hypertension or high blood pressure affects more than half the adults in the United States (119 million). According to the National Institutes of Health, prehypertension (blood pressure 120-139/80-89 mmHg) affects 25-50% of adults worldwide, and increases the risk of incident hypertension.

As you can imagine, the numbers for seniors don’t fare better. According to the CDC, about 70 percent of U.S. adults 65 and older have high blood pressure. Many do not know they have it. So, there’s a real need for everyone, but especially seniors, to stay on top of their blood pressure.

Part of why we take this so seriously at my practice is personal. As a dental student, my professor assigned the students in class to practice taking blood pressure readings on friends and family. I practiced on my father. The first reading shocked him. So, I took another and another. Each came back with the same conclusion:

My father had high blood pressure.

The good part of the story is that my practicing on him probably saved his life because I’m not sure he would have gone to the doctor on his own. And that’s why we take the extra step of doing blood pressure screenings on everybody who visits me or one of our hygienists.

Again, the blood pressure reading we take as part of an examination is not a substitute for a visit to your physician. It’s precautionary. If you have a high reading, we inform you of that and encourage you to visit your physician.

Dr. Richard Wolfert, DMD is the owner of The Toothboss, 1121 Main Street, South Weymouth, MA. For more information, call 781-335-0604 or visit