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Root Canals and High Blood Pressure: What You Should Know

October 11, 2019
Person wearing a blue shirt with their sleeve rolled up having their blood pressure taken.

Having your blood pressure checked is a routine part of any physical or visit to the doctor. In recent years, many dentists have also begun using this test to determine the safety and viability of treating patients as well. Whether your visit is for a routine cleaning or a more lengthy dental procedure such as a root canal, you should go into every dentist’s office knowing the risks of having dental work done with high blood pressure.

Causes of High Blood Pressure

Nearly one in three adults suffers from hypertension, or high blood pressure, in the United States. In a normal, healthy person, the heart pumps blood across your body through arteries. For someone with high blood pressure, however, the walls of those arteries are under a significant amount of stress, putting extra strain on the heart as it attempts to move blood throughout your system. Men are more prone to high blood pressure than women, and your risk of developing the condition goes up as you age. In addition, there are a few other factors that may make you more prone to high blood pressure. 

  • Diet. High cholesterol levels are present in nearly half of those with hypertension. Diets that are high in unhealthy fat and sodium increase your cholesterol, clogging arteries and making it more difficult for your heart to pump blood.
  • Stress. While many tasks and events may be temporary sources of stress, more chronic problems have been shown to increase blood pressure, as well as lead to other habits that increase the risk of high blood pressure.
  • Tobacco & Alcohol Use. Smoking and drinking shrink blood vessels, increasing pressure on your arteries. Additionally, tobacco reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, causing your heart to work harder than it should.

Detection & Prevention

Although regular physicals and trips to the doctor should be a part of every healthy person’s routine, regular cleanings at a dental practice tend to happen much more often than visits to a doctor’s office. By providing blood pressure checks, dentists can help patients discover they have high blood pressure, which may be a warning sign for more serious illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

If you have an abnormal blood pressure reading, you may want to consider making an appointment to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis, and to receive the care and medication you may need to avoid serious and life threatening complications like heart attacks in the future.

Risks of Hypertension

While a good dentist will do everything in their power to make you as comfortable and relaxed as possible during your visit, the reality is that having any dental work done is incredibly stressful for many people. In most cases, stress raises blood pressure, which could cause problems if your reading is already particularly high. Root canals, although typically no more painful than a regular filling, are a more lengthy and costly procedure that may cause your brain and body more stress than you realize.

Root canals also require a good deal of anesthesia to keep the area numb and pain-free. Depending on what anesthesia your dentist uses, it may contain epinephrine, a form of adrenaline that makes the numbing effects last for a more extended period of time. Epinephrine shrinks your blood vessels, which in turn could increase your blood pressure.

Although most dental procedures are relatively safe, your dentist may recommend you cancel or postpone your root canal if your blood pressure is at an abnormal level to avoid any potential threats to your health.

Need More Information?

If you’re in need of dental care and looking for an experienced and professional practice, contact North Shore & Brookline Endodontics at 617-735-8500 today to schedule your appointment.

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