oral health

A recent study published in Hypertension examined the effects of poor oral health on treated high blood pressure.

Periodontitis is the inflammation of the gums that begins to affect the bones in the mouth. Although the disease occurs orally, it has been shown to affect inflammation in other areas of the body. It is thus associated with inflammatory diseases and complications involving the cardiovascular system, such as high blood pressure.

Several studies have analyzed how treatment for periodontitis affects blood pressure, but few have examined how periodontitis affects blood pressure in individuals that take medication for high blood pressure. A recent study published in Hypertension analyzed existing data to determine the effects of periodontitis on blood pressure in medicated individuals in order to draw a link between oral health and high blood pressure.

Researchers used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to retrieve data on individuals over the age of 30 who were diagnosed with high blood pressure. Various heart conditions were grounds for exclusion from the study, such as congenital heart disease, bacterial endocarditis and previous heart transplants. The severity of periodontitis was categorized as mild, moderate and severe and for each individual, researchers took an average of the blood pressure readings reported.

Higher blood pressure among people with periodontitis receiving treatment

The researchers found that adults with periodontitis who received treatment for high blood pressure had higher blood pressure than adults without periodontitis. Interestingly, the prevalence of the oral disease was also associated with lower success rates of treatments for hypertension.

Regardless of age or the presence of periodontitis, systolic blood pressure control was poorer amongst non-Hispanic black individuals than other races. For individuals with periodontitis who did not receive treatment for their high blood pressure, their systolic blood pressure was between 2.8-7.6 mmHg greater than those without periodontitis.

Periodontitis may hinder the effects of blood pressure treatment

Altogether, the results show that the presence of periodontitis potentially hinders the effects of blood pressure treatments. This suggests that a component to maintaining a healthy blood pressure is good oral health.

Unfortunately, during this study, the researchers did not have access to patient information about previous treatments for periodontal disease or the specifics of the kind of treatments individuals used for their high blood pressure. To further understand the consequences of periodontitis on blood pressure, long-term studies should be performed.

Written by Monica Naatey-Ahumah, BSc

Reference: Pietropaoli, D., Del Pinto, R., Ferri, C., Wright, T.J., Giannoni, M., Ortu, E., and Monaco, A. (2018). Poor Oral Health and Blood Pressure Control Among US Hypertensive Adults. Hypertension, 72, 1365-1373.

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