People with severe gum disease may be twice as likely to have increased blood pressure

According to new study published today in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, adults with periodontitis, a serious gum infection, may be substantially more likely than those with healthy gums to have higher blood pressure. Although previous study has shown a link between high blood pressure and periodontitis, there is little evidence to back up these findings. When the gum tissues that support your teeth get infected, it may result in bone loss or even tooth loss. Periodontitis therapy and prevention are both low-cost options that may reduce circulating inflammatory markers and enhance endothelial function (thin membrane lining the inside of the heart and blood vessels).

Patient’s with gum disease typically have increased blood pressure when there is active gingival inflammation or bleeding of the gums, said main study author Eva Muoz Aguilera, D.D.S. and senior researcher at UCL Eastman Dental Institute in London, United Kingdom. “Because high blood pressure is often asymptomatic, many people are unaware that they have an elevated risk of cardiovascular problems. Healthy individuals without a documented diagnosis of hypertension were studied to see whether severe periodontitis was linked to high blood pressure.” 250 individuals with widespread, severe periodontitis (50% of teeth assessed with gum infection) were enrolled in the research, as were 250 adults without severe gum disease, who were all otherwise healthy and did not have any chronic health problems. It was estimated that the participants were 35 years old on average, with 52.6% of them being female. Dental students from the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain collaborated in the study.

A complete periodontal exam was performed on each participant. The exam measured the severity of gum disease, such as the presence of full-mouth dental plaque or bleeding gums, as well as pocket depth. Each participant’s blood pressure was checked three times to make sure the results were accurate. hsCRP (high sensitivity C-reactive protein) and white blood cell counts, both indicators of elevated inflammation in the body, were also measured in fasting blood samples. Family history of cardiovascular disease, age, BMI, gender, ethnicity, smoking, and physical activity levels were all considered confounders in the study. Gum disease was linked to an increased risk of hypertension, even in the absence of other known cardiovascular risk factors, according to the study’s authors. Gum disease was linked to higher systolic blood pressure in double the number of people. 135 millimeters of mercury, in comparison to individuals with normal gum health (14 percent and 7 percent , respectively). Corresponding author Francesco D’Aiuto, D.M.D., M.Clin.Dent., Ph.D., professor of periodontology and head of the periodontology unit at the UCL Eastman Dental Institute said: “This evidence indicates that periodontal bacteria cause gum damage and also trigger inflammatory responses that can impact the development of systemic diseases including hypertension.” “This suggests that gum disease and high blood pressure are linked even before the patient has symptoms of high blood pressure. A worryingly high percentage of people, according to our research, aren’t even aware they have hypertension.”

Then came the addition from D’Aiuto: “If dental professionals screen for hypertension and refer patients to primary care providers, this could improve detection and treatment of both conditions to improve oral health and reduce the burden of hypertension. Medical professionals screening for periodontal disease should also refer patients to periodontists. Our study’s findings show that oral health measures like brushing teeth twice a day may help prevent hypertension as well as manage and prevent some of the most prevalent oral diseases.” Researchers in this research failed to take into consideration other risk factors that may affect blood pressure, such as abdominal obesity and salt consumption. They also failed to include the usage of anti-inflammatory medicines, hormone therapies, and stress.

Reference Journal : Eva Muñoz Aguilera, Jean Suvan, Marco Orlandi, Queralt Miró Catalina, Jose Nart, Francesco D’Aiuto. Association Between Periodontitis and Blood Pressure Highlighted in Systemically Healthy IndividualsHypertension, 2021; DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.120.16790

Categories: Dental