You don’t need to be a King City dentist to know the impact our oral health has on our overall health. Over the years, a growing amount of research has found a connection between tooth decay and gum disease and a number of chronic health conditions that include heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.
Now a new study suggests that poor oral health may make it more difficult for patients with hypertension to properly manage their blood pressure.
Among patients treated for hypertension – aka high blood pressure – those dealing with gum disease recorded average blood pressure readings 2 to 3 mmHg (milligrams of mercury) higher when compared to patients without gum disease. Patients with gum disease were also less likely to successfully control their blood pressure with medication.
While previous studies have shown how gum disease can affect the body in a number of ways, researchers were surprised to discover the disease’s ability to interfere with the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.
The results of this latest study only help to reaffirm the need for patients to receive regular dental care from their King City dentist, Dr. Greg Williams.
The Effect of Gum Disease on Hypertension
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 to 2014 on adults over the age of 30 who were previously diagnosed with hypertension. Of the over 4,000 participant group examined by researcher, each had recently undergone a dental exam. Over 3,600 participants reported taking medication to control high blood pressure, while 460 reported taking no medication.
Based on the dental exams, approximately 52 percent of participants had developed gum disease, a chronic inflammation of the tissue that surrounds the roots of our teeth, which has been linked to higher inflammation throughout the rest of the body. Inflammation is the root cause of most systemic disease in the body.
Most of the participants who showed signs of gum disease had moderate to severe cases, while 3 percent had mild forms of the disease. Just 12 percent were dealing with severe cases of gum disease.
Researchers discovered that the average systolic blood pressure – the pressure exerted on the walls of blood vessel when the heart pumps, and usually the first number in a blood pressure reading – increased progressively from mild to moderate to severe cases of gum disease.
Overall, participants with hypertension and gum disease were 20 percent more likely to have medication fail to help control their blood pressure when compared to participants without gum disease.
Additionally, blood pressure control was worse in patients with gum disease across all age groups.
Among patients with hypertension who were not taking any kind of blood pressure medication, systolic blood pressure average 2.8 to 7.6 mmHg higher in the presence of severe gum disease, however the presence of gum disease did not seem to increase the risk of having blood pressure above 130/80 mmHg, the threshold for needing to seek treatment.
Protecting Your Health
Once again, new research has shown the remarkable connection that exists between the health of our teeth and gums and our overall health. While researchers continue to explore what makes this potential link possible, it’s become perfectly clear that maintaining and improving our oral health can greatly reduce our risk for a variety of serious complications and health problems.
Protecting your oral health means making a commitment to:
- Brushing twice a day. Brushing works to remove harmful oral bacteria and food particles that remain after eating away from the surface of our teeth and gum line.
- Floss daily. Flossing works to remove the same substances from the mouth, but from areas a toothbrush cannot reach – between your teeth and below the gum line.
- Visit your King City dentist. Regular exams and cleanings from Dr. Williams can help ensure that you avoid the damage done by tooth decay and gum disease, so you can continue smiling brightly for a lifetime.