What is hypertension?
Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is a damaging condition in which the blood pushes against the vessel walls at a high force consistently. This condition is commonly known as the “silent killer” as it often presents without symptoms and goes unnoticed in individuals who are not regularly monitoring their blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to many serious health problems if left untreated, including increasing the risk of developing heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and pregnancy issues for instance. Risk factors for the development of high blood pressure include poor diet (i.e. diets high in sugar, fat, salt, and cholesterol), lack of regular exercise, diabetes, tobacco use, hormone imbalances, and kidney issues, to name a few.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is a common condition that negatively impacts the lives of many. It is a severe form of gum disease characterized by gum inflammation, bone loss, and even tooth loss. The common culprit is bacterial dental plaque. When oral hygiene is not maintained, harmful bacteria within the mouth can lead to infection and progressive gum disease. If left untreated, the infection can even spread to other parts of the body and the resulting inflammatory response can lead to many systemic health issues.
The connection between periodontal disease and hypertension.
Research has consistently linked gum disease to many health problems, including high blood pressure. Although future studies are needed to form a definitive connection, gum disease seems to share many risk factors with high blood pressure. In addition, oral bacteria associated with gum disease have been linked with influencing inflammation within heart valves and blood vessels. It is important to keep in mind that the mouth is a window into the rest of your body, so maintaining the health of your mouth is key to keeping your overall health on track.
Preventing periodontal disease.
Preventing gum disease starts with having good oral hygiene. When foods and drinks are consumed, bacteria feed off the sugars and in turn produce acids that can breakdown your tooth enamel and surrounding oral tissues if not removed. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing daily is necessary to reduce harmful bacteria from within your mouth. Regular dental check-ups are also necessary for prevention and management of oral conditions. In addition, avoiding tobacco use, limiting alcohol consumption, and implementing a healthy diet and routine physical activity can help you fight against gum disease and hypertension.
How can my dentist help with periodontal disease?
If you are diagnosed with periodontal disease, your dental professionals are your first line of defense for helping you tackle this condition. A thorough clinical examination along with dental x-rays will help your dentist determine the necessary treatment for your individual case. Your dentist may measure the pockets of your gums using a dental probe. In some cases, you may be referred to a dental specialist for treatment.
Common treatments of periodontal disease include scaling and root planing, which involves a deep cleaning to remove the bacteria and debris from your teeth and their roots. Topical or oral antibiotics may also be prescribed to help control bacteria. In more severe cases of periodontitis, dental surgery may be recommended, including gingival flap surgery, soft tissue grafts, bone grafts, and other tissue-stimulating procedures to help prevent further damage to your oral tissues.
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