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Gum Disease Linked to Hypertension Risk

Gum Disease Linked to Hypertension Risk

If you’re Googling for what dental implants cost in Portland, then something has gone seriously wrong with your oral health. As we have covered before in our Portland Periodontics blog, gum disease plays a central role in helping to determine the overall health of our bodies. Decades’ worth of research has reinforced the fact that individual’s experiencing moderate to severe gum disease have a significantly higher risk for developing a range of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and hypertension. Now, the results of a new clinical review of existing gum disease research suggest that the more severe a patient’s case of gum disease, the higher their risk for hypertension becomes.

Approximately 47 percent of adults 30 and over in the U.S. have some form of gum disease. Additionally, roughly 32 percent of all U.S. adults deal with high blood pressure, according to statistic collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While these two conditions may initially seem unrelated, studies have shown that an unexpected connection exists between the risk for high blood pressure and the presence of gum disease.

To further understand this connection, researchers from the University College of London elected to perform a literature review on the topic. Based on an examination of the current available evidence, researchers confirmed that patients with severe forms of gum disease – a condition commonly referred to as periodontitis – have an increased risk for developing high blood pressure.

Even more compelling, the more severe a patient’s case of gum disease, the higher their risk for high blood pressure would become, according to the research team.

“Hypertension could be the driver of heart attack and stroke in patients with periodontitis,” writes the research team in their review. “Previous research suggests a connection between periodontitis and hypertension, and that dental treatment might improve blood pressure.”

Determining Their Results

As part of their review, researchers examined and analyzed 81 separate studies conducted in 26 different countries that looked into the connection between high blood pressure and gum disease. The studies all concluded that patients with gum disease were more likely to have a higher blood pressure average.

Specifically, systolic blood pressure (the pressure that occurs as the heartbeats) and diastolic blood pressure (the pressure that occurs between each beat) were 4.5 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and 2 mm Hg higher, respectively, among patients with gum disease when compared to those who enjoyed having healthy gum tissue.

Even those these numbers may seem slight, they could in fact prove life threatening. An average increase of just 5 mm Hg of blood pressure would be significant enough to increase an individual’s risk of death from a heart attack or stroke by 25 percent.

Additionally, researchers highlighted a connection between moderate-to-severe gum disease and a 22 percent higher risk for high blood pressure. Even more concerning, researchers discovered that patients experiencing cases of severe gum disease had a 49 percent higher risk for developing high blood pressure.

Researchers also wanted to determine whether any evidence existed that could indicate a correlation between lowering a patient’s blood pressure through the treatment of gum disease.

Unfortunately, the evidence they collected was inconclusive, as only 5 of the 12 studies that looked further into this correlation found any progress in lowering high blood pressure through the treatment of an individual’s gum disease.

Inflammation the Likely Cause

In the eyes of the research team, inflammation sits at the center of what connection blood pressure to gum health. Researchers believe that the oral bacteria responsible for the development of gum disease causes inflammation to occur, which then makes it more likely that high blood pressure will occur.

Researchers also explored that possibility of other explanations, such as the presence of specific genetic traits or the increased exposure to certain risk factors shared by both gum disease and hypertension, such as a smoking habit or obesity.

Researchers believe that further study is required before they can begin to fully understand what links our blood pressure to gum health. Until then, if you don’t want to spend your time Googling for what dental implants cost in Portland, you probably also don’t want to spend time worrying about your blood pressure. So take care of these teeth and gums by remembering to brush and floss daily.

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