This is a great question and the short answer is ABSOLUTELY! As dentist, we are not just responsible for what is happening in your mouth. We are also responsible for knowing what’s going on in your mouth, how it affects your body systemically (i.e. periodontal disease has ties to diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) as well as what is going on systemically that can be affecting your mouth. That is why as Downtown Dentistry we take our patient’s blood pressure at our hygiene/cleaning appointments regularly to help patients who may not go regularly to the doctor see if there is a pattern of high blood pressure. We, as dentist, are not trained to diagnosis and treat high blood pressure, but we are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure and are trained on when to suggest a patient’s primary care provider get involved.
I just had a patient who informed me that over the past couple of appointments with us we started to see his BP trending upward and that he had brought this concern up to his doctor. He said that the doctor wasn’t too concerned, but would monitor it. However, fast forward a couple of more months, at his next visit with us, he tells us that not long after his last visit with us his blood pressure spiked to a reading over 200/100! Wow! That is dangerously high! Luckily this patient was able to get to his primary care provider before it was too late and was able to get his blood pressure under control with medication and diet.
This is just one example of where dentistry and medicine intersect. There is a movement in the medical/dental communities to start tying the two closer together and working with one another to better serve the patients. This can be seen in clinics around the nation that are starting to house medical and dental practices as well as with dentist who are members of the American Academy of Oral and Systemic Health which Dr. Brooks is a member.