Why BP patients may need a trip to the dentist

A study shows gum disease affects hypertension medications

Poor oral health makes it harder for people with hypertension to manage their blood pressure, a study suggests.

dental equipment

Among people being treated for hypertension, those with gum disease have average blood pressure readings 2-3mmHg higher than those without.

They're also less likely to have their pressure under control with medication, an Italian study shows.

Lead researcher Dr Davide Pietropaoli says the finding that periodontal disease can affect the efficacy of medications for high blood pressure is surprising.

Dr Pietropaoli and his team analysed data from the annual US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2009 and 2014 on adults over the age of 30 with hypertension who underwent a dental exam.

The study included 3626 participants who said they were currently taking antihypertensives and 460 who were not.

Based on the dental exams, about 52% of participants had periodontal disease, the researchers note in the journal Hypertension.

Most of those with gum disease had a moderately severe case, about 3% had mild disease and 12% had severe gum disease.

Average systolic blood pressure increased progressively from mild-to-moderate to severe periodontal disease, the researchers found.

Overall, people with hypertension and periodontal disease were 20% more likely to have their hypertension uncontrolled with medication than those without gum disease.

In addition, blood pressure control was worse in patients with periodontal disease across all age ranges.

The researchers suggested that periodontal therapy, together with lifestyle measures (exercise, healthy diet and so on), could help to lower blood pressure and possibly limit the need for high blood pressure medications.

More information: Hypertension 2018