Raise awareness of screenings
and consider tai chi
With a wrist monitor, clinicians can help
patients remain aware of blood pressure
Do you provide blood pressure screenings for your
patients at their dental hygiene recare visits? Today’s
dental hygiene students are trained to do so at every
recall. A traditional cuff and stethoscope are used, and
established guidelines limit treatment of patients who
fall out of the range of what is considered safe.
The rationale for providing this service is clear, yet
in the private practice setting it often falls by the wayside.
Hypertension is known as the silent killer because
symptoms are almost always absent. Since many patients do not routinely see their physicians, they often
are not aware of the disease. Yet these same patients
frequent our dental practices, and this is the perfect
opportunity for us to provide the service quickly and
easily. Lives can potentially be saved. There are countless
stories about patients who were found to be hypertensive to the point of needing an emergency room referral.
I have experienced this with patients.
A wrist monitor allows for an accurate digital read-out of pulse and blood pressure in less than one minute.
It eliminates the need for patients to have to roll up their bulky
sleeves. Remember, this is a simple screening that allows us
to inform a patient if he or she needs to follow up, either by
having the pressure checked again, seeing a physician, or worst
case, going to the ER.
In my experience, patients are happy to have their pressures
taken. We provide the reading on a “Hygiene Progress Report”
so patients can have it for their personal records. In subsequent
appointments, I find that they are anxious to compare that
day’s reading with the previous visit.
On a related note, we often see patients who experience
early and moderate hypertension who are choosing not to be
medicated. I have walked in these shoes. I am forever an explorer of alternative medicine, and I’m wary of being placed
on a medication that I will likely be married to for a lifetime.
For those who think like me, I’ll share my experience with
an alternative approach that has been extremely helpful.
Disclaimer: I am not offering this as a substitute for medical
counsel for anyone. It’s simply my story.
I was trained in transcendental meditation 20 years ago,
and I practice it faithfully. Evidence-based research (EBR)
documents that meditation,
as well as yoga (which I also
practice), can be helpful in
lowering blood pressure.
Nonetheless, being genetical-
ly predisposed and undergo-
ing a generous amount of
stress over the past few years,
I found my blood pressure
readings were steadily rising.
My doctor warned me that I
would likely need medication.
I’m not the best at following the advice of my physician.
I’m guilty of being more of a “do as I say and not as I do” type
person. I know I could be a better health-care role model. I
had read EBR about the practice of tai chi and its results in
lowering blood pressures; hence, I decided to attend a class.
It was enjoyable, but I tend to like to do my own thing at home.
I googled “tai chi beginner moves” and found a 10-minute
You Tube video. All the motions were ones that I had been
taught in the class. For the past 16 months, I have engaged in
a regimen of 15 minutes of tai chi practice a half hour before
bedtime. I choose the same five movements, doing each for
three minutes. I’m very faithful to this practice. Tai chi movements are very simple to do; the challenge is to do them in
such slow motion. Those of us who are accustomed to being
Type A exercisers may have some trouble at first. My advice:
My results have been nothing short of phenomenal. At my
worst hypertensive moments over the past two years, I was
at 155/94. This happened more than a few times, raising
MS, is a practicing
clinician, speaker, and
writer. She is an adjunct
dental hygiene faculty
member at Rowan
College at Burlington
County. Eileen offers CE
forums to doctors,
hygienists, and their
teams. Reach her at
or 609-259-8008. Visit
her website at www.
Last week, at
my medical visit,
my reading was
officially 120/78. I
could not be more
thrilled. I have
added tai chi to
I practice, and I
intend to keep it
in my life forever.
continued on pg. 75