High Blood Pressure Can Be More Difficult to Treat If You Have Gum Disease

Poor oral health can lead to a variety of health problems.
Now, researchers have concluded health issues with your gums may also make it more difficult to manage high blood pressure.
Researchers in Italy say that people with hypertension who also have gum disease have blood pressure readings that are higher on average than those without gum disease.
The study is the first to identify a link between gum disease and uncontrolled blood pressure.
Those with hypertension and gum disease were found to be 20 percent more likely to have their hypertension not controlled with medication, when compared with patients with hypertension who didn’t have gum disease.
The Italian researchers examined data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2009 and 2014 of adults over age 30 with hypertension and who underwent a dental exam.
About 52 percent of those studied had gum disease, formally known as periodontal disease.
Most of those surveyed had a gum disease considered to be moderately severe, while 3 percent had a mild case and 12 percent had severe gum disease.
Blood pressure progressively increased from those with mild to moderate cases to those with severe cases.
Blood pressure control was worse in patients with gum disease than those without across all age groups surveyed.
Why there’s a link
Dr. Sally Cram, DDS, a periodontist in Washington, D.C., and spokesperson for the American Dental Association, said the link between gum disease and hypertension makes sense.
“We know that people who have uncontrolled periodontal disease inflammation and infection are more at risk of developing cardiovascular disease because… when inflammation is inside blood vessels, that makes the lining inside the blood vessels thicken. As you get those thickening plaques inside those blood vessels, it decreases the blood flow, putting you at risk for heart attack and stroke,” Cram told Healthline.
“Your head is connected to the rest of your body so whatever is going on in your mouth is going all through your body and your bloodstream,” she explained. “If you’ve got an infection in your mouth, that’s going all through your body and can affect all of your organ systems. I think it’s a fair statement to say whatever is going on in the mouth doesn’t stay in the mouth.”
Gum disease is common
Nearly half of the population of the United States over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease.
In the early stages of gum disease, known as gingivitis, gums become red and swollen and can sometimes bleed.
In the more severe forms of the disease, known as periodontitis, the gums can come away from the tooth.
Teeth may fall out or become loose. Bone can also be lost.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 70 percent of U.S. adults age 65 and over have periodontitis.