You probably look at your mouth several times throughout the day, whether while brushing your teeth or checking to see if something is stuck in them after eating. Chances are you're acutely aware of what's going on inside your mouth, and that's good news, because your mouth can actually tell your a lot about your health. In fact, a new study has linked one problem in your mouth to an elevated risk for high blood pressure. Read on to find out what to look out for, and for more warning signs to know, If You See This in Your Mouth, Your Heart Attack Risk Is High, Study Says.
If you have gum disease, you're more likely to develop high blood pressure.
Researchers from the University College London Eastman Dental Institute sought to discover the link between gum disease and the likelihood of developing high blood pressure, publishing their findings March 29 in the journal Hypertension. The researchers looked at 250 otherwise healthy adults who had severe gum disease and 250 healthy adults who did not have gum disease. According to the study, those with gum disease were twice as likely to have high systolic blood pressure, also known as hypertension, than those with healthy gums.
"This evidence indicates that periodontal bacteria cause damage to the gums and also triggers inflammatory responses that can impact the development of systemic diseases including hypertension," study author Francesco D'Aiuto, DMD, a professor of periodontology, said in a statement. And for more health concerns, If You Feel This at Night, You Need to Get Your Liver Checked, Doctors Say.
If you notice your gums bleeding, it's likely you have gum disease.
There are various symptoms associated with gum disease. However, study lead author Eva Muñoz Aguilera, DDS, senior researcher at the institute, said in a statement that patients with gum disease were most likely to have elevated blood pressure when there is "active gingival inflammation," which is bleeding of the gums. Other symptoms of gum disease include swollen gums, bad breath, painful chewing, and receding gums, according to the Mayo Clinic. And for more on your dental health, This Is the Absolute Worst Time to Brush Your Teeth, Dentists Say.
However, high blood pressure doesn't usually present symptoms.
Aguilera also said that "elevated blood pressure is usually asymptomatic," which means it often occurs without any outward signs. D'Aiuto echoed this sentiment, saying that their study "confirms that a worryingly high number of individuals are unaware of a possible diagnosis of hypertension."
"Integration of hypertension screening by dental professionals with referrals to primary care professionals and periodontal disease screening by medical professionals with referrals to periodontists could improve detection and treatment of both conditions to improve oral health and reduce the burden of hypertension and its complications," D'Aiuto said. "Oral health strategies such as brushing teeth twice daily are proven to be very effective in managing and preventing the most common oral conditions, and our study's results indicate they can also be a powerful and affordable tool to help prevent hypertension." And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
High blood pressure can result in a many different serious and possibly fatal health complications.
Untreated hypertension can lead to serious health issues, and according to the Mayo Clinic, "high blood pressure can quietly damage your body for years before symptoms develop." Uncontrolled high blood pressure could cause an aneurysm, heart attack, stroke, dementia, kidney failure, vision loss, and more. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says nearly half a million deaths in the U.S. had hypertension as a primary or contributing cause in 2018. However, much like the study authors, the experts at Mayo Clinic say that "treatment and lifestyle changes can help control your high blood pressure to reduce your risk of life-threatening complications." This is why identifying the risk of developing high blood pressure through gum disease is important. And if you already know you're dealing with hypertension, The FDA Has a New Warning About This Blood Pressure Medication.