It’s one of the most important things that people need to understand about their oral health: it contributes significantly to their overall health. But it’s also one of the hardest things for patients to understand. Over so many years, they’ve been told about the need to take care of their teeth and gums by dentists, but their doctors may not talk about it much, if at all. And some doctors even dispute the links.
But that’s why it’s good to see studies like the one recently presented at the American Heart Association’s international conference. This study shows that treating gum disease does more than preserve your oral health: it can help lower your blood pressure to protect you from serious cardiovascular disease.
A Small Study from China
This study looked at 107 Chinese men and women who were 18 years old or older. All the patients had prehypertension (systolic blood pressure 120-139 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure between 80-89 mmHg) and moderate to severe gum disease.
For this study, these patients were randomly assigned to have either standard or intensive gum disease treatment. Standard gum disease treatment basically included a normal checkup and hygiene visit: instructions in brushing and flossing teeth, and removal of plaque and tartar above the gum line. Intensive treatment ranged from root scaling and planing to tooth removal if necessary.
Then patients were monitored for six months to see the impact on their blood pressure.
Significant Blood Pressure Drops
When the two groups were monitored, it was found that blood pressure was largely unchanged for patients receiving a regular dental checkup. However, the blood pressure dropped significantly for those who received the intensive treatment:
- One month after treatment, systolic blood pressure had dropped nearly 3 points
- Three months after treatment, systolic blood pressure had dropped nearly 8 points, while dystolic blood pressure dropped nearly 4 points
- Six months after treatment, systolic blood pressure dropped nearly 13 points, while dystolic blood pressure dropped nearly 10 points
This blood pressure decrease is enough to take virtually anyone with prehypertension and drop them into what doctors consider a healthy blood pressure range.
The Way to Your Heart
If being healthier in the coming year is part of your goals, then this study proves again that you have to include dental care in your plan to achieve it. There are many ways that gum disease can undermine your health, and getting it treated will help you be as healthy as you can be.