Researchers have already established a connection between heart disease and poor oral health. Since hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a risk factor associated with cardiovascular disease, it would make logical sense that this condition would also be a result of a lack of oral care.
Many question the legitimacy of this correlation because they fail to understand how anything affecting your teeth could have a direct impact on your heart. When teeth are not properly cared for, they will begin to accrue plaque on their surfaces. This happens to every individual, which is why annual cleanings are imperative. When not treated properly, the plaque that accumulates on teeth can enter into the bloodstream via the pockets that form from inflamed gums.
Instead of clinging to teeth, this plaque will begin to stick to a person’s artery walls, making it more difficult for blood to flow through the arteries. This restricted blood flow results in higher blood pressure, which can eventually turn into heart disease.
A study was published in the Journal of Periodontology in 2015 that measured the oral hygiene patterns of over 19,000 individuals. How frequently these individuals brushed their teeth and whether or not they used any secondary products (floss, mouthwash, etc.) were all measured by researchers involved in this study. Of the participants, close to 6,000 individuals were diagnosed with high blood pressure. In both groups with and without periodontal disease, it was evident that regular brushing of teeth lessened the effects of hypertension.
The takeaway of the study was that high blood pressure could be controlled or completely prevented if oral hygiene was properly cared for.
There has been more awareness being raised for other detrimental medical conditions that can be influenced by poor oral hygiene – pneumonia, dementia, Alzheimer’s – but not enough attention being brought to high blood pressure.
Hypertension is not often in the spotlight of serious conditions, especially when compared side-by-side with Alzheimer’s, whose effects cause people to gradually lose all traces of their memory and personality. However, 80 million adults suffer from high blood pressure and risk not only damage to their hearts, but could also experience kidney damage or stroke.