Multiple studies have suggested an association between periodontal disease and tooth loss with hypertension, but the relationship with time remains unclear with these associations.
Study participants were 36,692 postmenopausal women from the Women’s Health Initiative-Observational Study. Participants were followed annually from initial periodontal assessment in 1998 through 2015 for newly diagnosed hypertension.
The study observed a positive association between the loss of all teeth and hypertension risk among postmenopausal women. Specifically, these women had approximately 20 per cent higher risk of developing hypertension during follow-up compared to women who still had natural teeth. The association was stronger among younger women and those with lower body mass index.
“We are continuing to explore the underlying reasons for the association between tooth loss and hypertension. Future studies on the impact of tooth loss on dietary patterns, inflammation, and the communities of bacteria that live in the mouth may give us further insight into this association,” said Joshua H. Gordon, the paper’s lead author.
There are several possible reasons for the observed association. One theory is that tooth loss could lead to changes in dietary patterns that could be associated with higher risk of hypertension. There was no association found between periodontal disease and hypertension.
The study suggests that older women who have lost their teeth may represent a group with a higher risk of developing hypertension. As such, the researchers involved in the study believe that improved dental hygiene among those at risk for tooth loss as well as preventive measures such as closer blood pressure monitoring, dietary modification, physical activity, and weight loss may reduce the risk of hypertension.
The findings also suggest that tooth loss may serve as a clinical warning sign for increased hypertension risk.