The casual link between gum disease and hypertension (high blood pressure)?
A March 2021 research study showed that patients with periodontitis (gum disease) and no other health issues are twice as likely to have elevated blood pressure as those with healthy gums. This means the bacteria that cause gum disease can trigger an inflammatory response that affects blood vessel function and lead to the development of hypertension.
Hypertension puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death in the US. According to the CDC, nearly half (45%) of adults in the US have hypertension or are taking medication to control it, and only 24% of them have it under control.
The dangers of gum disease
Gum disease triggers inflammation that thickens the lining of blood vessels. The thickening plaques decrease blood flow, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Patients with healthier gums had lower blood pressure and responded better to medications, compared to those with periodontitis, according to an analysis published in Hypertension, based on review of medical and dental exam records of more than 3,600 people with high blood pressure.
What’s more, periodontal therapy can make a difference. Intensive periodontal treatment lowered blood pressure levels (12.67mm Hg/9.65mm Hg) in patients over six months, after a four-week intervention, according to a clinical study published in 2017 in the Journal of Periodontology.
It’s all about education
With this in mind, we use blood pressure checks as an opportunity to educate patients. If you have an elevated reading, we will discuss the importance of getting the blood pressure under control.
Keeping gums healthy can contribute to better circulation and heart function through lowering blood pressure. Proper periodontal treatment, along with thorough daily flossing and brushing regimens take on added value in reducing risks from hypertension.