The People's Perspective on Medicine

What Does Gum Disease Have to Do With Your Blood Pressure?

Americans with gum disease are more likely to have high blood pressure and less likely to be able to control their hypertension with medication.

Gum disease has been associated with type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and a number of cardiovascular complications. Researchers have even found links with some types of cancer.

Gum Disease Linked to High Blood Pressure:

People with poor oral health appear to have a harder time controlling their high blood pressure (Hypertension, Oct. 22, 2018). The investigators reviewed data from the US National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES). In the process, they found that about half of the participants had gum disease. The worse the periodontal disease, the harder it was to manage high blood pressure.

Among people taking blood pressure medicine, gum disease raised the systolic measurement by 2 to 3 mm Hg. (Millimeters of mercury are the standard measure of blood pressure.) In addition, treatment of periodontal disease reduced the likelihood of antihypertensive treatment failure.

Don’t Count on Mouthwash Against Gum Disease:

Periodontal therapy may have to go beyond swishing and rinsing. Back in 2010, the FDA warned mouthwash manufacturers not to claim that their products could prevent or treat gum disease. The makers of Listerine Total Care Anticavity Mouthwash, CVS Complete Care Anticavity Mouthwash and Walgreen Mouth Rinse Full Action were chastised for advertising that their products can remove plaque or prevent periodontal disease. In summary, the FDA says that consumers can use these products to reduce the likelihood of developing cavities, but there is no reliable data to suggest that they will protect gums.

What Can You Do About Gum Disease?

The basics are simple: brush and floss at least twice a day. Beyond that, your dentist (or periodontist, if you have one) will recommend tools such as soft bristle picks or water picks to use between the teeth. Providing the gums with gentle stimulation may improve circulation and help them fight off infection. Sometimes periodontal infections require antibiotic treatment. On the other hand, conscientious oral hygiene can go a long way toward keeping gums healthy.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Hi Roz
Read again.
“The investigators reviewed data from the US National Health and Examination Survey.” So one assumes (well I did) that the participants were Americans. The advice given isn’t only for Americans. We can all benefit from this. I have good teeth, all my own, no gum disease, and every day I brush 5 times daily – once in the morning (because you never know when someone in the family will kiss you,
again after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner and before I go to bed. I always use a soft brush and start new one after 6 or 8 weeks. I go to the dentist twice a year for a cleaning/check-up. Our dentist always makes a joke that he’ll never get rich with patients like me.
Cheers, Ann

Coconut oil: 15 min swish, spit it out, 2-3 times a day.

Despite flossing, brushing, using a dental pick, using a water pik, and having low blood pressure, I still developed bleeding gums. That condition disappeared when I started taking a supplement containing 500 mg. of rutin and 500 mg. of bioflavonoids. I take two tablets daily along with 6 grams of vitamin C throughout the day and no longer have bleeding gums.

As a follow-up:

I found the app-it’s free for now-but it’s only available on an iPhone.

Interdental brushes are wonderful. My hygenist recommended them in addition to an electric toothbrush and daily flossing. After using, my hygenists reported less bleeding, less swelling and improved measurements of pockets. Teeth cleaning visits are less painful.

Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. Extractions and implants are very expensive.

Neglecting teeth and gums/oral health can open the body’s doors to heart disease and illnesses mentioned in the article. Before I brush or floss, I use mouthwash first. Secondly, I eat as much raw food as possible in the fruit and vegetable groups, avoiding white sugar, fats and processed foods. I am going on 76 years of age and began taking good care of my teeth later in life. I visit the dental hygienist twice yearly for exams and cleaning. There is a computer next to the dental chair that reflects my medications, past x-rays and oral history. I am thankful for good care and for good health.

I have had periodontal disease since the 1970s, many surgeries and deep cleanings, still going for deep cleanings. I do not have high blood pressure. I do use listerine mouth wash but my periodontist doesn’t think it does much. I am now on a antibiotic called Doxycycline 100 mg for 3 weeks, then go back to see the periodontist end of the month. I have 3 teeth that are infected. Sometimes wonder if I would be better off getting dentures.

Why only Americans??? Get out of the box, please. We in the rest of the world are people, too.

Really? Maybe because the study was done in the United States and the website is based in the US.

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