Hypertension is easily overlooked when considering dental health, although the chronic disease can contribute to dental problems and complications. When you have hypertension, taking a proactive approach to your dental care can reduce your risk of problems.
Decreased Saliva Production
Diuretics are commonly used in the management of hypertension, and may be used alone or in combination with other classes of anti-hypertensive medications. Although flushing out excess fluid and salt from your body is important for managing hypertension, the medication can make you more vulnerable to dehydration. You may notice you need additional fluids to prevent dry mouth. Having a dry mouth is not just a nuisance problem. Chronic problems with decreased saliva production can lead to increased cavities.
If you take diuretics, make sure you increase your intake of sugar-free, decaffeinated beverages throughout the day. The increased urination associated with taking diuretics may lead you to skip doses or avoid beverages throughout the day. When you take your medication regularly, your urine output should eventually stabilize and bathroom visits should not be as frequent.
To avoid frequent urination at night, make sure you take your medications immediately after waking up. If frequent urination continues to be a problem, even when you take your medication regularly, talk with the prescribing doctor. A simple dose adjustment or change in medication will usually fix the problem.
Complications During Dental Procedures
Poorly controlled or uncontrolled hypertension can pose serious risks if you need dental procedures. Unlike medical appointments, your dentist may not take your blood pressure during each visit. Therefore, it is your responsibility to speak up if you have hypertension and it is not under control. If you need a dental procedure and your blood pressure is not controlled, there is a chance your dentist may turn you away due to the potential for complications. Dental emergencies create the dilemma of weighing your complication risk against the risk of problems from the current dental problem.
Emergency dental procedures, such as extractions or root canals, may be treated with short-term pain medication and antibiotics until your blood pressure is under control. A primary concern with uncontrolled hypertension is the local anesthetics used for dental procedures. Some local anesthetics are combined with epinephrine and can cause a sudden increase in your blood pressure. If you already have elevated blood pressure, the added increase in your blood pressure could cause a stroke or heart attack. Other concerns, such as dental pain or anxiety, also increase blood pressure and further increase the risk of complications.
Uncontrolled hypertension can make dental procedures more complicated than necessary for you and your dentist. When your blood pressure is elevated, you are more likely to experience additional bleeding from procedures. Although the bleeding is not life threatening, you may need stitches to close the socket after an extraction that would normally close on its own, or the dentist may need to cauterize blood vessels after dental surgery. When you are prone to excessive bleeding during dental procedures, your healing time and infection risk may increase.
Bleeding And Irritated Gums
Hypertension is one of several chronic diseases correlated with a higher risk of developing periodontal disease. If you experience bleeding gums or problems with swelling and irritation, it can be difficult to tell if you are noticing early signs of gum disease. Minor irritation from brushing too hard or abrasive dental floss may cause your gums to bleed. Since hypertension can contribute to excessive bleeding, minor irritation can appear more dramatic. Calcium channel blockers, which are a class of medication used to treat hypertension, can also cause swelling or bleeding gums.
Hypertension is an important influence on your dental health and should not be taken lightly. Keeping your blood pressure under control and addressing medication side effects can help minimize hypertension-related damage to your teeth and gums, and prevent complications from routine or emergency dental work.