Poor Oral Health Linked to Higher Blood Pressure

A new study shows that your oral hygiene is linked to your blood pressure. The study, which was published in Hypertension, the journal of the American Heart Association, indicates that people who have high blood pressure benefit more from medication to control their condition if they have good oral health.

Scientists reviewed both the medical and dental records of over 3,600 people who suffered from high blood pressure. They noticed that individuals with healthy gums not only had lower base levels of blood pressure, they responded better to medications to lower their blood pressure than did the individuals who have gum disease. Those with periodontitis — informally known as gum disease — were 20 percent less likely to see their blood pressure revert to normal ranges during the course of treatment.

The American Heart Association recommends a target blood pressure of less than 130/80 mmHg.

The study found that people suffering from severe gum disease had systolic pressure– which is the upper number in the blood pressure reading — 3 mmHg higher than people without gum disease. While 3 mmHg seems like a trifling number, it’s roughly equivalent to the reduction in blood pressure someone would experience if they cut back on salt intake by 1 tsp. per day.

The study also found that people who did not treat high blood pressure, and who suffered gum disease, experienced systolic pressure rates of 7 mmHg greater than the healthy individuals. For these individuals, blood pressure medication brought down the systolic pressure to 3 mmHg but did not eliminate it. Scientists believe the presence of gum disease inhibits the medication from maximum efficacy.

Researchers recommended that people diagnosed with gum disease keep a closer eye on their blood pressure through regular blood pressure monitoring, and that people diagnosed with hypertension seek dental treatment.

The key takeaway for individuals suffering from hypertension, and for their doctors, is that maintaining oral health could be equally as important as the lifestyle recommendations typically offered — controlling salt intake, exercising, and controlling their weight. This study confirms previous research findings connecting oral inflammation with cardiovascular conditions and damage to blood vessels. The study was not set up to show how gum disease influences blood pressure medication, so future research is needed.

High blood pressure can be diagnosed by a medical professional or checked with a blood pressure cuff. Likewise, gum disease can be diagnosed by a dentist. Symptoms include bleeding gums, red gums, receding gums, and frequent bad breath.

At Weninger Dentistry, we work with patients of all ages to keep the teeth and gums healthy, prevent gum disease, and treat periodontitis if and when it develops. If you suffer from high blood pressure and gum disease, we can work with you to develop a dental care plan, clean your teeth and gums, and get gum disease under control, so your blood pressure can return to normal levels. To learn more or reserve an appointment, call today: 813-501-6864.