Study Finds Links Between Oral Health and High Blood Pressure

Newberg dentist Dr. Jennifer McLeod strives to teach all of her patients about the risks they face from poor oral health. While you might think that not brushing and flossing frequently enough only places your teeth and gums at risk, a number of studies in recent years have shown that patients with poor oral health have an increased risk of developing a number of chronic, long-term health problems, including heart disease, obesity, diabetes and even some forms of cancer.

Now a new study suggests that the list of health problems caused by poor oral health may have grown. According to researchers, poor oral hygiene habits may increase an individual’s risk of hypertension.

The study, published in the Journal of Periodontology, suggests hypertension and gum disease may be linked by way of blood pressure elevation and inflammation.

A Pressure Packed Discovery

As part of the study, researchers examined data collected from over 19,000 individuals who participated in the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Researchers evaluated how frequently participants brushed on a daily basis and how often they used secondary oral health tools such as floss, mouthwash, interdental brushes and electric toothbrushes.

Hypertension, more commonly referred to as high blood pressure, was diagnosed in nearly 6,000 participants and identified by an individual’s use of antihypertensive medication or an average blood pressure above 140/90 mmHg. For participants with and without gum disease, frequent tooth brushing was found to accompany a decreased prevalence of hypertension. Overall, individuals involved in the study who suffer from poor oral hygiene habits were more likely to suffer from hypertension.

Researchers determined that oral hygiene should be considered an independent risk factor for hypertension and that practicing quality oral hygiene habits may help control and lower an individual’s risk for the condition.

Quality Oral Hygiene the Key

While further study on the link between oral hygiene and blood pressure is needed, research findings continue to support the notion that what affect’s an individuals mouth can affect her or her body and vice versa. Patients of Newberg dentist Dr. McLeod need to take care of their teeth and gums at home to stay healthy just as much as they need regular exercise and a healthy diet.

Gum disease affects over 50 percent of adults in the U.S., according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gum disease is caused by an inflammatory reaction to a bacterial infection below the gum line and can lead to receding gums, irritation, swelling and tooth loss if not properly treated. The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day, flossing daily and undergoing regular dental exams and cleanings to lower your risk of gum disease and tooth decay.

Over 80 million American adults have been diagnosed with hypertension, according the American Heart Association. Commonly referred to as “the silent killer,” hypertension can lead to damage of the kidneys and heart arteries and stroke.

This study is just another that has found links between our oral health and overall health. While further is needed to establish what exactly connects our oral health with these types of diseases, it’s become clear that ignoring the needs of our teeth and gums is no longer an option.

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