Why There is a Link Between Gum Disease and Hypertension

What many people fail to recognize their health is that no aspect of health should be considered in isolation. Humans are highly complex creatures and our interactions with our environment are crucial in shaping our biology. If you experience health issues, including gum disease, then you shouldn’t just consider the direct cause. Instead, ask what the environmental factors were that might have created the right conditions for that cause to emerge. Consider what the condition of the body was prior to the onset of Gum Disease and Hypertension and whether it may have been vulnerable. Consider the individual’s history and habits.

Why There is a Link Between Gum Disease and Hypertension

To demonstrate this complex interplay, consider the relationship between two seemingly unrelated aspects of health and lifestyle: Gum Disease and Hypertension. Several studies have now demonstrated that there is a link between hypertension (high blood pressure) and gum disease. In fact, this may even be a causal link where gum disease could actually lead to high blood pressure!

Furthermore, if that wasn’t strange enough, consider that flossing can also actually reduce your likelihood of developing cancer! So, what’s going on here?

Your Mouth is the Gateway to Your Body

The thing to consider is that the mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body. For that reason, you can often consider oral health as a useful predictor of general health. In the case of gum disease and hypertension, it is possible that the bacteria that cause gum disease might also lead to physiological changes. Gum disease (periodontitis) is caused by bacteria that infect the gums. This in turn can then trigger reactions in the body that aim to fight the infection.

The body fights infection by increasing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. These cause redness and swelling at the site of infection. To accomplish this they must first send more blood and white blood cells to the area. That in turn requires an increase in heart rate (which immediately elevates the blood pressure) and constriction of the blood vessels.

Constriction of the blood vessels means that the veins and arteries are becoming thinner. The aim of this is to further elevate blood pressure, which helps to redirect the blood. Tiny muscles surrounding the veins allow this to happen, and it serves one of two purposes.

Blood Pressure

In some areas, an increase in blood pressure allows the blood to be directed upward. By creating more pressure, you can force blood against gravity. At the same time, changes in blood pressure cause blood to travel from one area to another. That usually means that the blood will travel from the areas of high pressure to lower pressure.

Consider that the mouth is at the top of the body. Consequently, it becomes apparent that these blood pressure changes might need to be fairly profound.
Other effects are also at play here though. For instance, the fact that your body is dealing with bacteria in your mouth means that your immune system will be working harder. This requires more energy, which puts the body into a slight state of physiological arousal. This is what we know as a sympathetic response or a fight or flight response.

Correlation and Causation

It’s also possible that this link occurs as a correlation. That means that outside factors could contribute to both an increase in blood pressure and periodontitis. For instance, if you drink a lot of sugary drinks, this can lead directly to inflammation. It can also cause weight gain. Both of these things are known to cause a rise in blood pressure. In addition, they increase the risk of gum infection.

What Can You Do?

The good news is that you can also reverse this process. Studies show that treating periodontitis can actually lower blood pressure – even in those who don’t have it. Looking after your teeth, in general, will likewise help to improve many aspects of your general health. But don’t just view this as an isolated thing you can do. The lesson here is that every aspect of your health and lifestyle combine to influence your wellbeing. Look at the whole picture and take care of every aspect of your routine and lifestyle.

Regency Family Dentistry Omaha | Best Omaha Dentist near Westroads Mall in Regency

Whether your teeth needs are a:

  • complete exam and cleaning,
  • full-mouth restoration
  • or anything in between

We promise to provide you with exceptional care as we enhance the natural beauty of your smile.  Below are just some of the many procedures and dental services we regularly provide to our patients – with a gentle touch, and stunning results.  Your smile is our first priority, and we’ll give you something to smile about.

Preventative Dentistry

  • Dental Exams
  • Dental Cleanings
  • Oral Cancer Exam
  • Fluoride Treatment
  • Sealants
  • Dental X-Rays
  • Home Care
  • Nightguards & Mouthguards

Cosmetic Dentistry

  • Dental Implants
  • Composite Fillings
  • Porcelain Crowns
  • FixedPorcelain Bridges
  • Porcelain Veneers
  • Tooth Whitening

Periodontal Disease

  • What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Maintenance

Restorative Dentistry

  • Dental Implants
  • Inlay Restorations
  • Onlay Restorations
  • Composite Fillings
  • Crowns
  • Dentures & Partial Dentures
  • Fixed Bridges
  • Root Canal Therapy

Oral Surgery

  • Wisdom Teeth Extractions

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