Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects up to 40 percent of people 25 and older worldwide. How do you find out you have it? Your doctor can certainly tell you but sometimes, your dentist can, too. Studies in recent years have shown a link between oral health and hypertension.
What Hypertension Studies Show About Oral Health
A study of 20,000 adults published in the Journal of Periodontology found that people with poor oral hygiene habits, such as infrequent tooth brushing, were more likely to suffer from hypertension.
Study subjects who brushed their teeth once or more each day, and also used floss or mouthwash, were less likely to suffer from hypertension. The study concluded that maintaining good oral hygiene habits may help prevent or control high blood pressure.
Another study of 3,600 people reported in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension appears to confirm this link. It indicates that high blood pressure sufferers taking medication for their condition appear to benefit more if they practice good oral hygiene.
The AHA findings indicate that periodontal disease, an oral condition marked by gum infection, gum inflammation and tooth damage, seems to make blood pressure worse and interfere with treatment of hypertension.
People in the study with healthier gums responded better to medication that lower blood pressure. Specifically, people with gum disease were 20 percent less likely to achieve healthy blood pressure ranges, compared with patients who had good oral health.
Yet another study of people with another heart condition, chronic coronary artery disease, found a link between cardiovascular death and tooth loss from the gum disease periodontitis. One hypothesis is that bacteria from periodontitis infect the coronary arteries or trigger an overall response by the body’s immune system; the link remains unclear.
Why Oral Health Matters
Why is the link between heart health and oral health important? Hypertension that is untreated or poorly controlled can lead to heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and kidney disease. Hypertension kills an estimated 7.5 million lives worldwide, according to the AHA. The World Health Organization calls high blood pressure the leading cause of heart-related deaths.
Research shows that dental and medical doctors should work together to treat patients with signs of gum disease and high blood pressure. It seems to indicate that patients with periodontal disease may need closer blood pressure monitoring, and those diagnosed with high blood pressure should be referred to a dentist for periodontal treatment.
Good oral hygiene is essential to a healthy life. Regular dental visits are also important to maintain good oral health. Contact our endodontist Louisville office to schedule your appointment for an examination and cleaning.