February is Heart Health Awareness Month. With 92.1 million American adults living with some form of cardiovascular disease, our Smile Design Dentistry dentists want to help you understand that good oral health will decrease your risk for hypertension, a major cause of heart attacks and strokes.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a major systemic side effect of gum disease. While it may seem odd that an oral health condition could negatively impact your body, the health of your mouth and body are closely correlated. One can impact the other. Whether it is positive or negative all depends on how well you take care of your teeth and gums.
Gum disease affects nearly 50 percent of the adult American population. Although certain factors, such as smoking, genetics, and diabetes can increase your risk – it is most frequently the cause of poor oral health habits. Gum disease not only causes gum inflammation, but if the chronic infection is left unaddressed, it can spread to your bloodstream and cause high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), it is estimated that one out of every three American adults has hypertension – that averages to about 75 million people. Because individuals are often unaware they have it until it’s too late, it is known as “the silent killer.” But by taking better care of your teeth and gums, you may be able to lower blood pressure.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a bacterial infection that attacks the soft and hard tissues of your mouth. If caught in its earliest stages when it is only gingivitis, the side effects are generally reversible. However, once it progresses, the disease is considered chronic and side effects must be managed by your dentist through either nonsurgical or surgical treatments, or risk losing your teeth.
- Some of the more common oral health side effects include:
- Gum swelling
- Gum redness
- Sore and tender gums
- Dental sensitivity
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Jaw pain
- Visible signs of infection (abscesses around teeth)
- Gum recession
- Tooth loss
What Does Some Recent Research Say?
According to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017, a study performed on Chinese patients with gum disease at risk for hypertension, blood pressure was reduced after undergoing gum disease treatment. This study compared blood pressure levels after both standard and intensive gum disease treatment.
The standard treatment was comprised of basic oral hygiene education and teeth cleaning that included plaque removal above the gum line. The intensive treatment was comprised of oral hygiene instructions, but plaque was removed from both the surface of the tooth and below the gum line. Patients were given antibiotics and if necessary, dental extractions were performed.
Results revealed that:
- After one month of intensive treatment, systolic blood pressure was reduced by three points, but diastolic blood pressure remained about the same.
- After three months of intensive treatment, systolic blood pressure was reduced by eight points, and diastolic pressure was reduced by four points.
- After six months of intensive treatment, systolic blood pressure was reduced by 13 points, and diastolic blood pressure was reduced by almost 10 points.
Protect Your Smile
The key to preventing gum disease and protecting your overall health includes attending routine dental examinations at least every six months and maintaining good at-home oral hygiene habits.
If you have been diagnosed with gum disease in Florida, we invite you to contact Smile Design Dentistry and schedule an appointment with a Smile Design Dentistry dentist near you.