Gum disease may affect high blood pressure

If you suffer from high blood pressure, your condition may be harder to treat if you also suffer from gum disease.

A study published in the December 2018 Hypertension, journal of the American Heart Association, looked at the medical and dental records of more than 3,600 people diagnosed with high blood pressure and found that those with gum disease were less likely to respond to high blood pressure medications and 20 percent less likely to achieve healthy blood pressure targets.

The study examined the association between periodontitis and uncontrolled hypertension in hypertensive patients enrolled in the 2009 to 2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It focused on treated hypertensive adults 30 and older who were taking prescribed medicine for high blood pressure who had at least one natural tooth (excluding third molars) and did not meet any of the exclusion criteria (history of heart transplant, artificial heart valve, congenital heart disease not including mitral valve prolapse, or bacterial endocarditis.)

The researchers found that 47.8 percent of the patients were free of periodontal disease, and of the remaining surveyed, 37.8 percent had moderate periodontal disease and 11.5 percent were diagnosed with severe periodontal disease.

They also found that periodontal disease was “significantly associated” with a 20 percent higher risk of unsuccessful anti-hypertensive treatment compared with the absence of the disease, except when CRP (the inflammation marker known as C-reactive protein) was included in the model.

The results show that “periodontal disease is significantly associated with the worst systolic blood pressure profile during anti-hypertensive therapy,” according to the study.

Interestingly, the researchers noted, “treated adults with periodontitis achieved a mean systolic blood pressure that was similar to that of untreated adults with good oral health.”

The study concluded that good periodontal health is associated with a better systolic blood pressure profile during antihypertensive therapy but researchers cautioned that “dedicated studies are needed to explore the impact of periodontal therapy on BP in treated hypertensive patients of different racial/ethnic descent and the long-term effects on cardiovascular outcomes of such a complementary approach to systemic health.”

The American Dental Association’s consumer website offers additional information on gum disease. The site also features a Symptom Checker that can help patients identify possible oral health conditions.

© 2018 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Top Ways to Prevent GUM DISEASE:

  • Proper brushing and flossing

  • Using antibacterial toothpaste and mouthwash to kill bacteria

  • Biannual dental visits for cleanings and checkups