You don’t need to be a general dentist in Aloha to understand the effects tooth decay and gum disease can have on your oral health. However, while the effects of poor oral health may be pretty clear when it comes to our teeth and gums, the effect common dental diseases have on our bodies overall may be slightly more difficult to fully understand.
Studies have continued to find surprising connections between our oral and overall health. Researchers have discovered that individuals who experience tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss have a significantly higher risk for developing a range of chronic health conditions that include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia and cancer.
Now a new study suggests that hypertension patients with poor oral health may have a harder time managing their blood pressure.
Among hypertension (high blood pressure) patients, those dealing with gum disease had an average blood pressure reading of 2 to 3 mmHg (milligrams of mercury) higher when compared to hypertension patients without gum disease. Hypertension patients with gum disease were also less likely to have their blood pressure under control through the use of medication.
While researchers were previously aware of the effect poor oral health could have on preventing hypertension patients from controlling their blood pressure, they were surprised to learn that gum disease could also lessen the effectiveness of blood pressure medications. The results of this study further continue to support the idea that patients need to schedule regular exams with their general dentist in Aloha to maintain an overall healthy body.
A Surprising Connection
As part of their study, researchers examined data collected as part of the annual U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between the years of 2009 and 2014 on adults 30 and older with hypertension who received a dental exam. Of the study group that was examined, over 3,600 participants reported that they were currently taking medication to control their hypertension and 460 who reported not taking any kind of medication.
Based on the information collected during the dental exams, roughly 52 percent of the participants had gum disease, which previous research has linked to higher inflammation in the body. Most of the study participants with gum disease were dealing with moderate to severe cases; about 3 percent had gingivitis – a mild form of gum disease – while 12 percent had periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease and the leading cause of permanent tooth loss in adults.
Average systolic blood pressure – the pressure exerted on blood vessel walls when the heart pumps, and usually the first number recorded in a blood pressure reading – increased progressively from mild to moderate to severe gum disease, reports the research team.
Overall, patients with both gum disease and hypertension were about 20 percent more likely to have medication unsuccessfully control their blood pressure when compared to patients without gum disease.
Additionally, blood pressure control was worse overall in patients with gum disease across all ages.
Among patients with hypertension who were not taking any kind of medication, systolic blood pressure averaged between 2.8 and 7.6 mmHg when gum disease was present. However, gum disease did not seem to cause hypertension to spiral out of control, as patients were unlikely to have their blood pressure rise above 130/80 mmHg (the threshold for treatment).
More Research Required
Researchers caution that their study wasn’t designed to show how or whether gum disease or the inflammation the disease creates might directly impact an individual’s blood pressure.
“If the results are confirmed by dedicated trials, oral health cold improve the treatment for hypertension, which is considered the most important risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” wrote the research team. “Patients with treated high blood pressure may benefit from a dedicated program for the reduction of oral inflammation from periodontal disease by referring to a dentist or periodontist.”
Researchers also suggested that gum disease treatment, combined with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and frequent visits to an oral health care provider such as your general dentist in Aloha, could also help to lower blood pressure and potentially reduce the need for medications to help control high blood pressure.