BALTIMORE, Md (July 31, 2018) — Thanks to a grant from the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), more dentists are screening Marylanders for high
blood pressure (hypertension) than ever before. Hypertension is a common risk
factor for heart disease. The grant funds a pilot program to encourage dental
professionals to screen patients for hypertension at every visit and refer
cases of elevated and high blood pressure to medical professionals and
community resources for further services. A healthy blood pressure reading is
less than 120 for the systolic (upper number) and less than 80 for the
diastolic (bottom number) – <120/<80.
The pilot is overseen by the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) Office of
Oral Health and the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control.
the pilot, MDH launched a campaign, titled “Two Minutes With Your Dentist Can
Save Your Life.” The campaign educates Marylanders about the critical role
dentists play in identifying undiagnosed hypertension as well as reminds
dentists of the critical role they can play in a patient’s overall health. As a
part of the campaign, a traveling banner exhibit, coupled with a discussion
explaining the importance of good oral health for better health, recently kicked
off at the Enoch Pratt Free Library Orleans Street Branch in Baltimore and the Carroll
County Public Library North Carroll Branch in Hampstead. Additional banner
exhibits will be announced throughout the year.
disease is the leading cause of death in Maryland, killing more than 11,000
Marylanders each year,” said Howard Haft, MD, Deputy Secretary for Public
Health Services, Maryland Department of Health. Our goal is to encourage
dentists to screen their patients for hypertension at every visit while
empowering Marylanders to ask their dentist for hypertension screenings. We
believe this will ultimately save lives.”
to Debony Hughes, DDS, Director, Office of Oral Health, “Dentists can become
the first point of contact for many Marylanders to help them identify
undiagnosed high blood pressure and get them into care for follow-up screenings
and treatment. As we take our campaign on the road in 2018, we are looking
forward to educating the public and involving more dentists in the program.”
A Life SavedIn one
remarkable case, a 41-year-old man was visiting the Baltimore City Health
Department (BCHD) Eastern Dental Clinic, a pilot program participant, for an
oral exam when he was screened for hypertension by the dental assistant. The
patient’s reading was 147/101—high blood pressure. The dentist urged the
patient to see his primary care provider as soon as possible since he had not
reported a previous history of hypertension.
about his health, the patient immediately visited a local emergency room (ER).
While at the ER, physicians determined that he had an undiagnosed heart condition.
Today, the patient is doing well and gives credit to the Eastern Dental Clinic
staff for saving his life.
often we see patients who don’t understand the critical role oral health plays
in their overall health,” said Patricia Bell-McDuffie, DDS, Director, Oral
Health Services, Baltimore City Health Department. “Bacteria found in the mouth
can travel through the blood vessels that carry blood throughout the body. If
not managed properly, this bacteria can create unwanted inflammation that can affect
the body, including the heart. We always encourage patients to visit the
dentist regularly. That way we can conduct frequent screenings for hypertension
and, if necessary, encourage people to stop smoking—all in an effort to
increase overall health and well-being.”
how “Two Minutes With Your Dentist Can Save Your Life,” please visit www.health.maryland.gov/oral-health.
About the “Hypertension Screening
in Dental Setting” ProgramThe Office
of Oral Health and the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control in the
Maryland Department of Health launched a unique program to integrate oral
health and primary care in Maryland. The pilot program, “Hypertension
Screenings in Dental Settings,” launched in May 2017, is raising awareness
among Marylanders and oral health providers about the important role dentists
play in identifying undiagnosed hypertension.
project is coordinated by county health departments, select private dental
practices, and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in 14 Maryland
jurisdictions. Maryland jurisdictions participating in the pilot include:
Allegany, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Garrett,
Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Washington, Wicomico, and Worcester counties, as well
as Baltimore City.
Marylanders who need help
finding substance use disorder treatment resources should visit http://goo.gl/nIfGm0 or call Maryland Crisis Connect, which provides 24/7 support, at 211,
press 1. For information on many of the policies currently implemented to fight
addiction and overdose in Maryland, see http://goo.gl/KvEzQw. If you know of someone in need of treatment for a substance use
disorder, treatment facilities can be located by location and program
characteristics on our page at http://goo.gl/rbGF6S.
The Maryland Department of Health is the State agency that
protects Maryland’s public health. We work together to promote and improve the
health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to
care, quality management, and community engagement. Stay connected: http://www.twitter.com/MDHealthDept and http://www.facebook.com/MarylandDHMH.
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