29% of all Americans have high blood pressure. That is 1 of every 3 adults. Untreated, it can lead to stroke, damage to the heart and arteries, and kidney defects. There is a genetic predilection for high blood pressure, but unhealthy behaviors can also increase the risk for developing this disease. They include smoking, eating foods high in sodium and low in potassium, inadequate physical activity, being obese, and drinking too much alcohol.
A recent South Korean study has suggested that the likelihood of developing high blood pressure may also be linked to poor oral hygiene habits. In a two-year study, over 19,000 participants on blood pressure medication or with an average blood pressure greater than 140/90 mmHg had their oral hygiene habits evaluated. The analysis showed that frequent toothbrushing, flossing, and use of interdental brushes could be associated with a decrease in blood pressure. To the contrary, participants with poor oral hygiene were found to have higher daily blood pressure readings.
According to the research, this suggests that gum inflammation may lead to a blood pressure elevation. This allows for the conclusion that oral hygiene may be considered an independent risk factor for high blood pressure. This subject may require further study, but the association between high blood pressure and gum disease is reminiscent of the link between gum disease and other systemic conditions, including diabetes and heart disease.
Hence, now we have yet another reason to maintain good oral health habits so as to prevent and control several medical conditions. Brushing and flossing can save your life!