An increasing body of research is showing just how much oral health is connected to the rest of your body. Research shows that oral bacteria can play a role in heart health, diabetes, and even
Alzheimer’s disease . However, new research is showing that your oral health may influence your blood pressure as well. Here’s how oral bacteria could be connected to your risk for high blood pressure—and how taking care of your smile could potentially help you maintain a healthy blood pressure range.
Different Types of Bacteria Have Been Linked to High Blood Pressure
Certain bacteria have been connected to an increased risk for high blood pressure. In fact, 15 different types of oral bacteria were linked to the risk of developing high blood pressure later in life, particularly for women . Although the research doesn’t prove that oral bacteria directly cause an increase in blood pressure, we do know that people with advanced periodontal disease, or gum disease, have a higher risk for both heart disease and high blood pressure.
Some Bacteria May Protect Against High Blood Pressure
The study also showed that a few different types of oral bacteria were connected with a healthy blood pressure range, or a decreased risk of high blood pressure . It’s possible that these bacteria help produce nitric oxide, which can help relax blood vessels and therefore encourage healthy blood pressure.
In fact, killing off these good bacteria by overusing antibiotics or antiseptic mouthwash use can cause blood pressure to increase . Although no causal link has been established, it’s clear that the bacteria in our mouths can be a marker for our general health and may even play a role in helping or hurting the body.
Does a Healthy Smile Translate to a Healthy Heart?
Research hasn’t yet confirmed whether keeping your smile healthy could result in better heart health, cognitive health, and lower blood pressure. However, emerging studies demonstrate the connection between oral bacteria and the rest of the body, which means keeping your smile healthy has the potential to influence the health of the rest of your body.
The best way to reduce bad oral bacteria and encourage helpful ones is to brush and floss daily, eat a healthy diet, and continue to see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Not only will your smile look better and brighter, but you might just feel better too!