A new study shows that people with gum disease are more likely to have high blood pressure, also called hypertension. Although the study was conducted in Italy, it’s based on data from the US. It reminds us that oral hygiene–including regular checkups and professional cleanings–does more than protect your teeth. It can actually save your life.
Gum Disease Negates Benefit of Medication
This study looked at the data from nearly 12,000 Americans who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and were examined for gum disease. Of those studied, almost 4100 were diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Gum disease increased the risk of having high blood pressure. Those with gum disease were 20% more likely to have high blood pressure. Most people who had been diagnosed with blood pressure (88%) were being treated with medications. However, those who had gum disease but were taking medication had blood pressure similar to those who didn’t have gum disease, but also weren’t being treated. Researchers said that this essentially meant that gum disease negated the benefit from medication.
High blood pressure is seen as a dangerous early sign of heart problems, and the blood pressure link could hint at the larger connections between gum disease and heart problems.
How Gum Disease Could Hurt Your Heart
There have been many strong studies recently showing that there’s a strong link between heart problems and poor oral health, especially gum disease.
In the rarer form of interaction, oral bacteria can directly infect your heart, causing a serious heart failure. More commonly, bacteria from gum disease can enter your bloodstream and cause many problems. First, they can accumulate as part of the plaque that clogs your arteries. Bacteria might also be responsible for making some of the fat that also makes up the plaque. They might even be more significant than dietary fat. Plaque buildup contributes to coronary artery disease and stroke risk.
How Regular Checkups and Cleanings Help
Regular checkups and cleanings can help reduce the risk of developing oral health-related heart problems. In fact, people who make regular dental visits have a 23% lower stroke risk than those that only see their dentist when there’s a problem.
During your regular visits, we will perform a professional cleaning. This removes hardened deposits that can shelter oral bacteria. It protects you from cavities and gum disease. We can also perform a clinical exam that lets us detect problems before they become too serious. When we spot problems early, they may be treated with diet change, improved oral hygiene, and other noninvasive holistic dentistry approaches. If gum disease is serious, Perio Protect helps us improve your gum health with a minimally invasive approach.
And there’s more good news. The effects of gum disease on your heart may be reversible. A study published in the journal Hypertension showed that non-surgical gum disease treatment actually reversed arterial thickening caused by arterial plaque.
Are You Overdue for a Checkup?
Prevention is the best approach to ensuring good oral and overall health. If you are overdue for a checkup and cleaning, now is the time to get in to the dentist’s office.