As a holistic dentist, Dr. Nancy Nehawandian understands how closely oral health is linked to overall health. Now a new study reaffirms the most important of these links: the link between oral health and heart health. This new study shows that gum disease treatment can be a significant contributor to lowering blood pressure.
This study shows that taking care of your oral health is an important strategy for keeping your heart healthy. This is probably the main reason why people with good oral health live longer.
A Small Study from China
The biggest problem with this study is that it’s relatively small, just 107 Chinese men and women, age 18 or older. All the patients had moderate to severe gum disease and prehypertension (which is defined as systolic blood pressure 120-139 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure 80-89 mmHg).
This study had a randomized clinical trial design, with patients randomly assigned to get either standard gum disease treatment or intensive gum disease treatment. Standard gum disease treatment consisted of instructions for brushing and flossing as well as a routine cleaning on the teeth above the gum line. Intensive gum disease treatment was root scaling and planing, with additional steps as necessary, up to and including removal of teeth threatened by gum disease.
Researchers monitored patients for six months after treatment. Researchers took blood pressure measurements one month, three months, and six months after treatment.
Significant Blood Pressure Drops
Over the follow-up period, blood pressure remained essentially unchanged for the standard treatment (hygiene instructions and checkup) group. But the intensive gum disease treatment group saw significant drops in their blood pressure.
- Systolic blood pressure dropped nearly three points in the first month
- By the third month, systolic blood pressure had dropped nearly 8 points, while diastolic blood pressure dropped nearly 4 points
- By the six month, systolic blood pressure had dropped nearly 13 points, while diastolic blood pressure dropped nearly 10 points
For comparison, ACE inhibitors, a common class of drugs prescribed to lower blood pressure, typically result in an 8-point reduction in systolic blood pressure and a 5-point reduction in diastolic blood pressure, making gum disease treatment nearly twice as effective for controlling blood pressure.
The Way to Your Heart
The truth is that although we have many medications aimed at controlling blood pressure, they are not as effective as their prescribing rates would make you believe. Although millions of people are given these drugs (which can have serious side effects), there are many more effective ways to lower blood pressure. Including gum disease treatment, according to this study.
If you are looking to improve your overall health and reduce the number of prescription drugs you’re taking, then taking care of your oral health is a great way to start.
If you’re looking for a dentist in the San Jose area that is dedicated to your overall health, please call (408) 354-5600 today for an appointment with Dr. Nancy Nehawandian at Top Down Dental in Los Gatos.