High blood pressure can have several causes including if a person is overweight, inactive, smokes, drinks too much alcohol and is over the age of 65.
However, a recent study, published in the journal Hypertension last year, found that a condition found in the mouth could be a cause of high blood pressure.
Gum disease, like high blood pressure, is a common and treatable condition experienced by thousands.
Now a study conducted by University College London on 250 healthy adults has found a link between gum disease and hypertension.
The results showed that participants with gum disease were twice as likely to have high blood pressure than those with healthy gums.
Dr Francesco D’Aiuto, the study’s author, said: “[Our] evidence indicates that periodontal bacteria cause damage to the gums and also triggers inflammatory responses that can impact the develop of systemic diseases including high blood pressure.”
Although this study only identifies an association rather than a cause-and-effect link, it’s findings suggest that 50 percent of adults could have undetected and undiagnosed high blood pressure due to gum disease.
Furthermore, the researchers suggested that treating and preventing gum disease could be a cost-effective way to reduce inflammation and strengthen the lining of the blood vessels.
Dr Eva Aguilera added: “Patients with gum disease often present with elevated blood pressure, especially when there is active gingival inflammation, or bleeding of the gums.”
Gingival inflammation is a reference to gingivitis, a type of gum disease caused by the build up of plaque on the teeth and gums.
In the UK “90 percent of adults have some gum disease” according to healthcare provider Bupa.
Gum disease, much like high blood pressure, is common but can be rectified through simple lifestyle changes although, like blood pressure, if it isn’t treated it can cause serious complications.
In the case of gum disease these complications include receding gums, loose teeth, loss of teeth, damage to the jaw and the tissue that connects the tooth to the socket.
These can be avoided through good oral hygiene such as brushing twice a day and regular flossing to keep the teeth and gums devoid of plaque as much as possible.
Although plaque is the main risk factor for gum disease, it isn’t the only factor that can contribute to inflamed gums.
Diabetes, smoking, age, pregnancy, a weakened immune system, stress, and malnutrition can all contribute to gum disease.
As well as maintaining oral health, high blood pressure can be treated through lifestyle and dietary changes including drinking less caffeine, quitting smoking, and losing weight.
Furthermore, the NHS recommends cutting salt intake to just six grams a day and eating a balanced diet with fresh fruit and vegetables.
If these changes aren’t sufficient ACE inhibitors or angiotensin-2 receptor blockers may be prescribed to help lower the blood pressure further.
For more information on dental health and blood pressure, contact the NHS or consult with your GP.