As dental professionals, we know that being heart-healthy also means maintaining appropriate oral health care. But, did you know that your dental health can be directly linked to the heart health of your patients?
Oral health, though often ignored by many, has a systemic effect on the overall well-being of a person’s body, including their heart muscle and even their blood pressure. Poor oral hygiene can increase blood pressure and may lead to or increase the severity of hypertension. This, of course, creates a domino effect and can lead to a number of different physical issues if oral health and blood pressure aren’t properly managed.
But, How Does Improper Oral Hygiene Cause Hypertension?
Well, bad oral hygiene, as you know, can create bacteria that can make it into the bloodstream. This bacteria that can enter the gums, in turn, eventually leads to the bloodstream and can move throughout the body within a few seconds of entering.
Another snag in optimal heart health is infection of the gums. Periodontitis (gum disease) can lead to inflammation not only in the gums but the rest of the body. Once the gums are infected, that infection can spread throughout the body and cause systemic inflammation, potentially harming the patient’s blood flow, that can cause abnormal blood pressure.
Another problem faced by patients with poor dental hygiene routines is bleeding gums, disease, and exposed vessels that can further increase the risk of bacterial infections. Exposed blood vessels in the mouth can also become permanently damaged, leading to higher risk of systemic infection.
The Statistics and Studies to Back Them Up:
Hypertension (high blood pressure) affects upwards of 40 percent of people 25 and up worldwide. Typically, these patients are diagnosed by their primary care doctors, but dental professionals can also play a vital role in the diagnosis of hypertension and helping to reduce the risk of bad oral health causing hypertension.
If you still aren’t certain about the effects of oral health on hypertension, there are studies to back up these concerns. A study that consisted of 20,000 adults was published in the Journal of Periodontology. This study found that people with poor oral hygiene routines or habits, such as not brushing enough, were more likely to be diagnosed with hypertension. Whereas their counterparts that brushed their teeth once or more every day, along with flossing and using mouthwash, were less likely to suffer from hypertension.
This wasn’t the only study, another study was published in the American Heart Association’s journal. This study of 3,600 people appears to confirm the link between oral health and hypertension. It indicates that patients who suffer from high blood pressure can benefit from practicing good oral hygiene habits.
Of course, these astounding results show just how important oral health is to the overall health of the body, including heart health. Taking the time to talk to your patients about their oral hygiene routines can not only lead to better oral health, but it can also lead to better overall health as well.
Why is minimizing the risk for hypertension by following an appropriate oral hygiene routine important?
The link between oral health and the heart is an important one. Hypertension, if left untreated or poorly controlled, can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, or heart failure. Hypertension has taken an estimated 7.5 million lives worldwide according to the American Heart Association and is considered the leading cause of heart-related deaths according to the World Health Organization.
So, what can be done to help prevent hypertension (high blood pressure) in patients?
* Dentists and medical doctors should work together to treat patients with signs of high blood pressure and gum disease.
* Monitor blood pressure more regularly for patients who suffer from periodontal disease.
* Treat any existing periodontal disease or watch for new or worsening perio.
* Promote a good oral hygiene routine for patients to follow. Regular dental visits, brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash are great ways to help prevent oral-health-related hypertension.
Of course, you may face some push-back from patients who are more concerned about their financial health than their oral health. In these cases, it is possible to work with medical insurance to help get the treatment of hypertensive patients covered, turning patient hesitation into an enthusiastic yes.
Our amazing team of experts can help you implement medical billing for dentistry, take our free assessment to see how you and your patients with hypertension can benefit from billing medical.