Q: My blood pressure remains high even with medication and my physician has asked me to check my dental health. Could my teeth issues be contributing to my hypertension?

A: Your physician has informed you of an often-overlooked cause of hypertension – gum health. So to answer your question – it’s not so much the teeth but the gums that might be contributing to a part of your hypertension.

The mouth is a breeding ground of bacteria. Around six to 20 billion bacteria are present in the mouth at any given time. When there is gum inflammation or bleeding gums, these bacteria enter into the bloodstream in massive numbers. The immune system tries to immediately neutralise them and there is a chronic inflammation of the blood vessels all over the body as a result. This can exacerbate hypertension that will remain as long as the inflammation in the gums persists.

Sometimes inflammation around the wisdom teeth especially when they are impacted or partially stuck underneath the gum can also cause similar issues.

The good news is that this condition is fairly easy to treat. The first step is a thorough cleaning especially under the gum line. All tartar and plaque should be meticulously removed. Any problematic spots which might harbour plaque should be treated. A common culprit are ill fitting crowns and fillings which might not have been placed or finished correctly. This is usually evident when one or two spots bleed persistently. Any areas which are constantly getting food impactions must be treated by replacing fillings or crowns as necessary.

A professional oral hygiene check-up and cleaning should be done on a regular basis to spot problem areas where you might be having trouble cleaning. A liquid called plaque disclosing solution can be used which can colour and mark plaque to help you clean it more efficiently. Also, I would highly recommend water flossers which you can add to your oral hygiene regimen once a day to flush out plaque and food debris where string floss and your regular toothbrush doesn’t reach.

Lastly, if your teeth are very crowded making it difficult to clean them effectively, it would be a good idea to get them aligned. Today’s aligners, which are thermo-plastic custom made trays that fit on your teeth, can move teeth very quickly and efficiently and are much more aesthetic than traditional braces. Teeth which are aligned are less prone to collect plaque.

Dr Tanveer Ahmed is medical director at New Ivory Dental & Implant Clinic. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

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