Why does your blood pressure matter when you visit the dentist? Because we see you about every 6 months, we’re in a good position to monitor changes in your blood pressure, changes that can signal the onset of heart disease and stroke. Your blood pressure reading yields two numbers, 120/70 for instance. The first figure is systolic pressure, of the force of the blood against the arteries as it is pumped out of the heart. The second is diastolic pressure, the force of blood against the arteries as the heart is filling. A high reading – about 140 systolic, about 90 diastolic – means your heart is working too hard. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, has many causes, some as simple as diet and stress or even just the process of aging. Genetics are a factor too. Overweight people tend to have higher blood pressure, as do women during pregnancy. Smoking and alcohol are clearly contributing factors as well. Hypertension may be symptomless and it can come along in spite of the best lifestyle habits. If we find you borderline when we take your blood pressure at your next dental visit, we will discuss with you any contributing factors that you can control, and refer you to your physician. Your blood pressure screening is no extra charge when you are here for your regular dental visits. Let us help you take care of your heart!