As regular readers of our Roane Family Dental blog know, a surprising connection exists between our oral and overall health. While it’s easy to think of brushing and flossing as only having to do with the health of our smiles, a growing amount of research has found that a connection exists that suggest common oral health problems such as tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss could impact far more than just our teeth and gums.
While dentists have believed for over a century that poor oral health could impact other areas of the body, it’s only been within the last few decades that research has begun to reinforce that belief. In recent years, studies have found that individuals dealing from the effects of tooth decay, periodontitis (a severe form of gum disease), and tooth loss have a significantly higher risk for developing a range of chronic health conditions that include heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, dementia and cancer.
Now a new study suggests that gum disease may even interfere with our ability to control our blood pressure. This latest study joins other recent research that suggests poor oral health may not only increase our risk for certain diseases but could also play a role in our ability to successfully manage other important conditions such as blood sugar levels.
The results of the study were published in the journal Hypertension.
Gum Disease’s Impact on Blood Pressure Control
As part of their study, researchers examined the dental and medical records of over 3,600 patients diagnosed with high blood pressure.
When compared to those patients with good oral health, those with gum disease were less likely to respond to high blood pressure medications and were 20 percent less likely to successfully hit healthy blood pressure targets, reported researchers. Based on this data, researchers believe that patients with poor oral health need to be made aware of their increased risk of high blood pressure.
While further research is required to determine the exact effect gum disease has on blood pressure control, researchers believe it possible that gum disease could be viewed as a potential warning for high blood pressure in the future.
Even as researchers continue to find new links between our oral and overall health, the big question that continues to linger is what exactly contributes to the development of this mouth/body connection.
The leading culprit in the mind of many researchers is the inflammation caused by the oral bacteria P. gingivalis, the bacteria most responsible for the development of gum disease.
Researchers believe that cuts in gum tissue that develop as a result of early stage gum disease – commonly referred to as gingivitis – allows P. gingivalis to enter the bloodstream where it travels throughout the body. As the bacteria progresses to areas like the heart and even brain, it has a negative cumulative effect that contributes to the development of these seemingly disparate diseases.
While researchers continue to search for the direct mechanism behind the mouth/body connection one thing has become perfectly clear – our oral health matters.
Protecting Your Long-Term Health
As research continues to stress the dangers of ignoring our oral health, the importance of brushing and flossing daily, along with scheduling regular cleanings and exams with our team at Roane Family Dental, has become more important than ever. Failing to practice quality oral hygiene at home or not receiving the dental care needed to prevent the development of cavities has far more reaching consequences that just impact the state of our smiles.
To enjoy a healthy body and smile, it’s vital that patients give their oral health just as much attention as their heart, kidney and even mental health. Don’t underestimate the importance of what quality oral health could mean to your long-term health. Contact our office today to schedule your next dental exam and cleaning with Dr. Roane.