North Dakota Department of Health Oral Health Program is dedicated to improving the oral health of all North Dakotans through prevention and education. Because the impacts of oral health and overall health are connected, the program is working to increase coordination between oral health providers and medical providers. Oral health providers can help by working with medical providers on strategies to prevent cardiovascular diseases. CDC funding allows the state to implement a blood pressure pilot project intended to improve the oral and cardiovascular health of North Dakotans.
For the blood pressure pilot project, the Oral Health Program partners with dental providers, who provide blood pressure screenings for adult patients and conduct bidirectional referrals. Bidirectional referrals are a process in which a dental provider refers a patient for services when high blood pressure is identified and receives feedback from the medical provider on that referral. All participating dental offices receive training on best practices for screening patients’ blood pressure. After receiving this training, dental providers screen adult patients for high blood pressure using a set protocol and refer people with a high blood pressure reading to partner medical practices. Dental practices track the number of screenings provided, the number detected to have high blood pressure, the number referred to a medical practice, and the number receiving follow-up on their referral.
The Effects of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is when the force of blood flowing through a person’s blood vessels is too high. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, and other health problems. Almost half of American adults have high blood pressure, and it often goes undetected. Find out more about high blood pressure.
What is a Normal Blood Pressure?
There are typically no symptoms when a person has high blood pressure, and many people do not know they have it. The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure measured. A normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg. See the chart below on the different levels of hypertension.
Learn More about the Program
- Fact Sheet | The Intersection of Oral Health and Hypertension: Blood Pressure Pilot Project Results, Year 2 (2019-2020)
- Fact Sheet | The Intersection of Oral Health and Hypertension: Blood Pressure Pilot Project Results, Year 1 (2018-2019)
- Manual | Blood Pressure Measurement in Dental Practice: Information and Guidelines
If you are a dentist in North Dakota and would like to participate in the pilot project, contact Melissa Kainz, Community Clinical Coordinator 701.328.4568.