High blood pressure and oral health

Older woman getting blood pressure checked

Also called hypertension, high blood pressure is the most common type of cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, high blood pressure rarely generates any symptoms, which means you may not realize you have it.

What does it mean to have high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force at which blood travels inside your blood vessels. But because blood vessels are narrow, too much force can easily damage them, causing complications such as stroke or heart disease.

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure you should follow your doctor’s dietary and exercise recommendations and avoid smoking. And if you have diabetes, you should be especially mindful of your sugar consumption and insulin levels, as diabetes can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure.

What does high blood pressure have to do with oral health?

People in treatment for high blood pressure are more likely to benefit from their hypertension medication if they also have good oral health, according to a 2018 study in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension. Researchers found that people with healthy gums respond better to their medication than those already diagnosed with gum disease. In fact, those with gum disease were 20% less likely to achieve a “healthy” blood pressure range.

Although the research is in its early stages, doctors and researchers alike note that these findings support a potential connection between inflammatory conditions of the mouth and heart.

Can my dentist help me?

Absolutely! Because the human body is so interconnected, your dentist may be one of the first people to recognize that something is wrong with your health. Bad breath, mouth sores and bleeding gums may be signs of a more serious condition. While these developments don’t necessarily equal high blood pressure, they could be symptoms of other problems. If you notice something seems wrong, ask your dentist for help. Make sure you are visiting your dentist for regular check-ups as well and remember to brush and floss every day.

How do I prevent high blood pressure?

  • Don’t smoke. Tobacco use causes your blood vessels to narrow, forcing the heart to pump faster which leads to high blood pressure.
  • Watch your weight. People who are obese and overweight are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
  • Exercise. Sitting on the couch and being sedentary increases your risk of hypertension.
  • Limit salty and fatty foods. A diet high in salt or fat can contribute to high blood pressure.

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Published May 2019

The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. You should always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.