Study Links Gum Disease to Hypertension
As your provider of dental care in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Dr. Kazemi wants our patients at Family Dentistry of Colorado Springs to have the information they need to enjoy a healthy, great-looking smile for a lifetime. As we’ve mentioned before in our blog, a substantial amount of research has found that gum disease increases a patient’s risk for developing a range of chronic health conditions that include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. Now, a new study suggests that severe forms of gum disease, called periodontitis, could be linked with elevated systolic blood pressure in otherwise healthy patients.
“Patients with gum disease often present with elevated blood pressure, especially when there is active gum inflammation, or bleeding of the gums,” wrote the research team from Eastman Dental Institute at the University College of London. “Elevated blood pressure is usually asymptomatic, and many individuals may be unaware that they are at an increased risk of cardiovascular complications.”
As a result, the research team decided to focus their study on determining what, if any, impact gum disease could have on the blood pressure health of individuals without any other known risk factors for hypertension.
The results of the study were recently published in the journal Hypertension.
Does Gum Disease Increase Blood Pressure Risk?
As part of their case-control study, researchers compared 250 patients with periodontitis with 250 control patients to examine the relationship between inflammatory gum disease and a patient’s blood pressure. Researchers closely examined the link between blood pressure and ways of measuring gum disease while also investigating the role of systemic inflammation in the body.
Compared with the control group, patients with periodontitis were found to have higher mean differences in systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Additionally, a periodontitis diagnosis was associated with higher odds of a patient developing systolic blood pressure of at least 140 mm Hg. when compared to the control group.
“This evidence indicates that periodontal bacteria cause damage to the gums and also triggers inflammatory responses that can impact the development of systemic disease including hypertension,” wrote the research team.
Based on the data, researchers determined that a link between gum disease and elevated blood pressure occurs prior to a patient actually developing chronic high blood pressure. Well before a patient may receive a diagnosis of having developed hypertension, the study suggests that damage may already be underway to a patient without their knowing a health issue is even present.
As a result, researchers are calling for periodontitis to be considered an early warning sign and potential risk factor for the development of hypertension.
A Healthy Mouth Leads to a Healthier Body
Once again, evidence shows that protecting your overall health requires making a commitment to protecting your oral health.
The mouth acts like a gateway, and what goes in and goes on can have a dramatic impact on your health overall. Researchers believe that harmful bacteria that originates in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and move throughout the body causing inflammation wherever it takes root.
For example, previous research has found oral plaque in the arteries of patients who’ve developed heart disease. One study even found oral plaque in the brains of patients that had experienced a stroke.
While the mechanism behind the movement of oral plaque throughout the body is not yet fully understood, researchers do have one prominent theory.
Patients who develop gingivitis and periodontitis have a higher risk for developing bleeding gums. Plaque enters the bloodstream through the cuts in gum tissue and then proceeds to move to wherever the blood flows throughout the body.
Whatever the mechanism, it’s become clear that maintaining a healthy smile can significantly reduce your risk for a variety of systemic health issues that can seriously lower a patient’s overall quality of life.
To enjoy a healthy smile and healthy body, you need to schedule regular exams and cleanings with Dr. Kazemi at Family Dentistry of Colorado Springs. Only with dental care in Colorado Springs, Colorado can patients hope to enjoy great health for a lifetime.