Periodontal disease, an inflammatory condition that affects tooth-supporting structures, adversely impacts not only oral health but also a plethora of other health conditions throughout the body. In particular, gum disease has been linked to high blood pressure. Gum disease also makes it more difficult to treat high blood pressure levels. Why?
Gum disease causes chronic gum inflammation. This inflammation can trigger or worsen inflammation throughout the body. In a study examining the connection between periodontitis and hypertension, scientists found a positive linear relationship between systolic blood pressure and severe periodontal disease in middle-aged people. In other words, individuals with more serious gum disease also experienced dangerous levels of artery pressure with each beat of their hearts.
In another recent study, scientists studied the potential pathophysiologic (abnormal changes in body function concomitant with disease processes) mechanisms between hypertension and periodontal disease. The study found that certain conditions such as metabolic syndrome, bacteremia (the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream), and inflammation are risk factors contributing to gum disease. These factors also cause coronary artery disease and vascular dysfunction, leading to high blood pressure. It is noteworthy that both periodontal disease and high blood pressure share the same risk factors for cardiovascular complications. By treating periodontal disease, you can also diminish the risk factors for hypertension.
In short, gum disease exacerbates high blood pressure and makes it more difficult to manage. In fact, individuals with hypertension and periodontal disease are over twenty percent more likely to be unsuccessful in controlling their high blood pressure through medication than those who suffer from hypertension alone. Patients with high blood pressure but healthy gums were much more successful in managing their hypertension with medication.
Fortunately, gum disease is treatable. By seeking periodontal care sooner rather than later, patients can avoid, or at least diminish, the risk of hypertension. Have questions? Give us a call at (919) 518-8222. We’d love to hear from you!