Gum disease is almost as common as high blood pressure in Americans, and there may be more reason for that than you think. New research has found a link between oral health and blood pressure control that stresses the importance of taking care of your teeth.
The study found that patients with low oral health had higher blood pressure on average and did not respond as well to treatments targeting hypertension. When the researchers reversed their analysis, the participants with the highest ratings of hypertension were also those most likely to be suffering from gum disease or other oral conditions.
The researchers analyzed medical and dental records from over 3,600 participants who had been diagnosed with hypertension. The participants with healthy gums were more likely to have normal blood pressure and respond better to blood pressure medications if they did have hypertension. Those who suffered from gum disease were 20 percent more likely to also have hypertension, comparatively.
“Physicians should pay close attention to patients’ oral health, particularly those receiving treatment for hypertension, and urge those with signs of periodontal disease to seek dental care,” Pietropaoli said. “Likewise, dental health professionals should be aware that oral health is indispensable to overall physiological health, including cardiovascular status,” said the study’s lead researcher, Davide Pietropaoli.
People with Gum Disease Have Higher Blood Pressure
The study also found quantitative measurements of how gum disease affected blood pressure. Those who suffered from gum disease showed an average increase of 3mmHg to their blood pressure score. When patients were treated with blood pressure medication, this number did decrease, but it was not resolved fully. This implies, according to the researchers, that gum disease or poor oral health interferes with the effectiveness of hypertension treatments.
“Patients with high blood pressure and the clinicians who care for them should be aware that good oral health may be just as important in controlling the condition as are several lifestyle interventions known to help control blood pressure, such as a low-salt diet, regular exercise and weight control,” Pietropaoli said.
This is not the first study to link oral health to other medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, but so far there have been no experimental studies performed which offer conclusive evidence as to what causes this relationship. The current study is also an observational study, but it brings us one step closer to understanding how oral health connects to other areas of our wellbeing.
The initial signs of gum disease include red, swollen, and sensitive gums, which may bleed when brushed or flossed, and also receding gumlines. If you have a loose tooth as an adult, you may want to consult a dentist about the possibility that you might have gum disease.
Gum disease is entirely preventable by including brushing and flossing into your daily healthcare routine. If you are diagnosed with gum disease, be sure to have your medical professional keep an eye on your blood pressure as well, and do the same if you are diagnosed with hypertension.
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