ODA, ODAF partner with health clinics to provide blood pressure cuffs

The Ohio Dental Association and the ODA Foundation have teamed up with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers (OACHC) to incorporate blood pressure screenings during oral health visits at community health centers. The Ohio Dental Association Foundation is providing funding assistance for this initiative.

The program makes performing blood pressure screenings as part of the dental appointment easier by providing the clinics with blood pressure monitors.  OACHC has also developed a blood pressure protocol and reference guide for providers and pamphlets to send home with patients on healthy habits to lower blood pressure.   

“The ODA and the Foundation saw the request for the funding of the equipment to check the blood pressure of dental patients, within the confines of community health centers, as an opportunity to support the gathering of vital information,” said Dr. Kevin Laing, ODA president-elect and a member of the ODAF Board of Trustees. “It is important for our members to have information regarding the stress of different dental visits as measured by blood pressure and the value of screening patients for undiagnosed hypertension. The uniqueness of this program is the ability of a community health center to have the patient go down the hall to a physician if the need arises.”

OACHC had found that one of the barriers to screening for hypertension is not having blood pressure monitoring devices available in each operatory. The program will provide blood pressure cuffs for each operatory in all 68 FQHCs with dental clinics in Ohio to help OACHC achieve its goal of integrating oral heath with primary care.

“This initiative illustrates the commitment of community health centers to provide comprehensive care, amplifying the dentist’s role as a health professional who sees the importance of addressing patients’ total health during their oral health visit,” said Dr. Ted Wymyslo, chief medical officer of OACHC.

The community health centers that participate in this initiative will collect data including the number of patients screened and how many referrals are made for further screening and treatment. This data will be shared to underscore the value of a broader health perspective during dental visits.