Gum Disease may Increase Risk of Hypertension

Gum Disease may Increase Risk of Hypertension

by Dr. Lakshmi Venkataraman on Sep 25 2019 6:41 PM
Listen to this article


  • Gum disease is a common condition affecting approximately half of the world's population, which increases the risk of hypertension and its complications including heart attack and stroke
  • Moderate-to-severe gum disease was found to up risk of hypertension by 22%, while severe periodontitis almost doubled the risk of developing hypertension.
  • In most low and middle-income countries, oral health is often ignored, increasing the risk of heart disease.
  • Persons with gum disease must be urged to seek dental review as well as adopt a healthy lifestyle such as proper diet and regular exercise
Periodontitis or gum disease increases the risk of hypertension and consequent risk of heart attack and stroke according to a recent study at the UCL Eastman Dental Institute, UK. The findings of the study appear in Cardiovascular Research, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).


Does Oral Health affect Heart Health?

Previous research has established a relationship between gum disease and hypertension and that regular dental check-ups and treating gum disease may reduce the risk of blood pressure. However, the findings of these studies have not been conclusive.

This current study gathered the best available evidence to determine the relationship between high blood pressure and moderate and severe gum disease. Totally 81 studies from 26 countries were analyzed in this meta-analysis.


Effect of Gum Health on Blood Pressure

  • Moderate-to-severe gum disease was found to have a 22% elevated risk for hypertension while severe gum disease was linked with 49% elevated risk of hypertension
  • On average blood pressure was higher in patients with gum disease compared to persons without gum disease. This was reflected as a 4.5 mmHg higher systolic readings and 2 mmHg higher diastolic blood pressure values.
  • Only 5 out of 12 interventional studies taken for this meta-analysis showed a lowering in blood pressure following treatment of gum disease. This occurred even in persons with normal blood pressure values
The findings of the study suggest periodontal therapy could reduce blood pressure, but the evidence for that is insufficient and further randomized studies have to be done. However, the authors note that the impact of slight reductions in blood pressure values can be beneficial and even a reduction of blood pressure by 5 mmHg reduces heart disease risk by 25%.

Professor D'Aiuto of the UCL Eastman Dental Institute, said: "There seems to be a continuum between oral health and blood pressure which exists in healthy and diseased states. The evidence suggesting periodontal therapy could reduce blood pressure remains inconclusive. In nearly all intervention studies, blood pressure was not the primary outcome. Randomized trials are needed to determine the impact of periodontal therapy on blood pressure."


How Gum Disease may Affect Blood Pressure

In gum disease, the presence of inflammation and bacteria in the mouth results in the spread of inflammation throughout the body, which can also blood vessel function. Other risk factors such as genetic susceptibility and lifestyle factors such as smoking, unhealthy diet and could also play a contributing role.

Scope of the Study

  • Creating awareness about the importance of oral and periodontal health which is ignored by many persons
  • Future research can explore if the reverse association is true i.e., persons with high blood pressure have a higher incidence of gum disease
In summary, the study finds that gum disease may increase the risk of hypertension and associated complications and further studies are needed. Additionally, it's important for people to be more aware of dental hygiene and periodic dental check-ups.

  1. Persons with Hypertension may Benefit from Gum Check-Up - (