Better Blood Pressure Readings Using BP Cuffs 

July 24, 2023 Lee Ann Brady DMD

In our office, we routinely take our patients’ blood pressure, and we have a variety of cuffs. Most commonly, both hygienists use one of the convenient, digital wrist cuffs. A few months back, they noticed a trend of higher BP readings than they thought were appropriate. We wondered if the wrist cuffs were giving us accurate readings. We did a little research and I decided to reach out to my own primary care physician to ask her advice.

I learned two important things about taking blood pressure:

  1. My physician recommended that we give our patients three to five minutes sitting up in the dental chair, relaxed, and not moving. While pleasant chitchat to reduce anxiety might help, we were advised to steer away from asking any medical history questions and other questions that might produce a bit of anxiety before taking the patient’s blood pressure.
  2. One of the challenges with wrist cuffs is that the cuff is supposed to be at the level of the heart. In a dental chair, the patient is likely to rest their arm on their leg unless we instruct them to do otherwise. She advised that we have the patient take the arm that is wearing the cuff and place it across their chest to hold it at the level of their heart. To be at heart level, the hand shouldn’t come up to the shoulder but be horizontal with the elbow.

My physician asked me if we have arm cuffs that go above the elbow. I told her that we have two digital arm cuffs. She said she prefers using the arm cuffs herself because they tend to be more accurate than a wrist cuff, especially in picking up subtle variations.

This great information has enabled us to take blood pressure readings with more confidence and would be valuable to share with your team members who measure blood pressure. 


In your dental practice, it’s important to create a restorative partnership with your assistants, hygienists & front office team. Make the handoff between your team seamless, build a stronger team & create lasting patient connections. Check out our three Pankey Team Courses that are coming up: Team Series

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Lee Ann Brady DMD

Dr. Lee Ann Brady is passionate about dentistry, her family and making a difference. She is a general dentist and owns a practice in Glendale, AZ limited to restorative dentistry. Lee’s passion for dental education began as a CE junkie herself, pursuing lots of advanced continuing education focused on Restorative and Occlusion. In 2005, she became a full time resident faculty member for The Pankey Institute, and was promoted to Clinical Director in 2006. Lee joined Spear Education as Executive VP of Education in the fall of 2008 to teach and coordinate the educational curriculum. In June of 2011, she left Spear Education, founded leeannbrady.com and joined the dental practice she now owns as an associate. Today, she teaches at dental meetings and study clubs both nationally and internationally, continues to write for dental journals and her website, sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry, Inside Dentistry and DentalTown Magazines and is the Director of Education for The Pankey Institute.

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Ways to Rely More on Hygienists and Assistants

October 3, 2018 Pankey Gram

Dentists can feel like they have to do everything and decide everything in the dental practice. After all those years of training, hard work, and practice, it’s no surprise we take the lead.

But even only five years into practicing, doing everything and always being the expert can get pretty exhausting. You may want to provide exceptional care, but you can’t be everywhere at once. That’s when it’s time to start taking on more of a mentorship role with your team members.

Leaning On Your Hygienists and Assistants

If you’ve developed a positive, collaborative practice culture, you’ll likely be surprised by how many of the people you employ jump at the opportunity to learn more and embrace more responsibilities. Some might seem hesitant, but likely this stems not from disinterest but from not wanting to disappoint or threaten their position by messing up.

You actually can’t and shouldn’t do it all. First and foremost, rely on your team to fill in some of the gaps of kindness/emotion/consideration that you may not be able to fill as easily if your schedule is packed. Even if you can’t hear about the patient’s life story, someone on the team should be making an effort to get to know them more personally.

Hygienists and assistants can be trained for many specialties you might not even be aware they are allowed to perform. They can handle impressions, facebows, photographs, sealants, whitening, and oral hygiene instructions and make lucia jigs, quicksplints, and provisionals.

That’s no small amount of tasks. Think of all the time you could save by entrusting more to team members who may already feel complacent in their work. You’ll end up fostering a more engaged working environment.

How do you lean on your dental assistants and hygienists? We’d love to know your tips and tricks!

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