Dentists – you can check more than just oral health

Portrait an unknown male doctor holding a stethoscope behind

Dental health does not only comprise of checking out the oral fitness and hygiene. You can’t be a dentist and expect to treat the patient’s mouth alone. It is essential to be aware of your patients’ vitals like temperature, pulse, blood pressure, respiration. Why you may ask? The answer is simple. These are the things that allow a doctor to judge the condition in which a person’s body is functioning. Are all the vital organs functioning to their most optimum? If yes, great, if not, what can be done and what measures need to be taken.

You will be surprised to learn that not many dental healthcare specialists are concerned about overall health of their patients and do not take into account these specifics. When these vitals are checked in advance, they can secure the patient as well as health professionals from many future complications. The best thing is that any kind of medical emergency can be prevented. These problems can be solved in advance before anything serious takes place or even before something disastrous happens. Getting vital signs checked before any dental treatment can also prepare the dental team for any kind of medical emergency that might take place.

Many a times people who come in for some kind of dental procedure become terrified, which increases their pulse or blood pressure. This is why it is necessary to keep in check their vital signs and how they are progressing during the treatment process. This is particularly important for people who already have some kind of medical history or who are senior citizens. The reason why this is so important is because people who have increased risk of high blood pressure is that they can quickly have conditions like heart attacks or strokes.

Hence, it can be stated with utmost urgency that dental practices need to have a written protocol that all dentists should have a system where patients get their vital signs checked before any kind of procedure. This practice would ensure that no patient ever has to go through any kind of health hazard. Dental assistants should also ask for health history of every patient in order to ascertain the fact that there is no health concern that needs to be kept in mind before performing any kind of dental procedure.

Here are the major vitals that need to be checked as soon as a patient visits with a dentist.


The first thing to note in vital signs is the pulse. A nurse or dental assistant could easily note down the pulse before the patient enters the dentists room. The pulse rate shows the condition of the heart and its regularity proves if the heart is working as it should or if there is any abnormality. The most common way to check a pulse is through the nerve on the wrist.

Some of the things that affect the rate of the pulse include body size or weight, use of medicines, temperatures of the air, body positions like standing or sitting and physical fitness. Normal pulse rate for adults’ lies somewhere from 60-100 beats per minute.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure when called just that is considered a disease. Why? Because it can literally be a silent killer when it gets either too hot or too cold. This is why it needs to be definitely checked at the dentists’. High blood pressure can damage not only the heart but also the brain, eyes and kidneys. Low blood pressure is also just as harmful. It can cause a person to become dizzy or become faint.

Normal ranges of blood pressure come under less than 120mm Hg systolic to less than 80mm Hg diastolic. This is for people of all genders, ages and races.

Blood pressure is obtained through a sphygmomanometer, either a manual or an electronic/digital one. The only two things that need to be considered when taking blood pressure readings are that legs should not be crossed and arm should be straight.


Temperature of the body helps in determining whether or not there is presence of any infection or not. For a healthy adult, the temperature should be 98.6° F. Be it high or low, no further procedures should be carried out.

There are quite a few thermometers available that can be used to check the temperature but it is bet to use digital thermometers because they are safe to use and very easy to read.


Respiration is the breathing rate of a person. For an adults is 12-20 breaths per minute, while for teenagers it’s 15-25, for toddlers it’s 20-30 and for infants it’s 25-40 per minute. Keep in mind that people tend to change their breathing patterns when they are being monitored.

Familiarizing with the Patient

One more thing that is not a common practice at dentist clinics is familiarizing with patients. It is necessary to develop a communication system in order to get to know the patients well. This way, not only will they become more comfortable, they will also be able to better guide the health care dental experts about their vitals and other health concerns.

May 3, 2017

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Dental is part of the Medical News Group of publications which in 1968 became the pioneer of medical journalism in Pakistan. Medical News is the only periodical in Pakistan which has 3 simultaneous editions from Karachi, Islamabad and online.

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