Study links tooth loss and hypertension

A woman with curly hair wearing a white tank top smiles into the mirror while brushing her teeth.

Jan. 4, 2019—Women who lose all their teeth are at increased risk for high blood pressure, according to a new study.

As part of the Women's Health Initiative, the study followed more than 36,000 postmenopausal women between 1998 and 2015. It found that women who lost all their teeth during this time were also more likely to develop high blood pressure.

Periodontal (gum) disease is highly prevalent after menopause—as is high blood pressure. However, younger postmenopausal women who lost their teeth appeared to be at especially high risk for hypertension.

The full research paper was published in the American Journal of Hypertension.

What might be behind this connection? One possibility is changes in diet. According to researchers, people who lose all their teeth may choose softer or more processed foods. This could in turn hurt their heart health.

The exact relationship between dental and heart health is not fully understood, but multiple studies have found a connection between the two. This new research also suggests that doctors might consider tooth loss as a warning sign for high blood pressure in the future.

What can you do now to reduce this risk? Scientists involved in the study had several suggestions:

  • Keep your teeth healthy and clean.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly.
  • Lose weight.
  • Eat a well-rounded diet low in added sugars.

Want to learn more?

Check out this quiz to see how high blood pressure affects your body.

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