By Robert Preidt
Researchers reviewed medical and dental records of more than 3,600 people diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Compared to people with good oral health, those with gum disease were less likely to respond to high blood pressure medications and 20 percent less likely to achieve healthy blood pressure targets, the study found.
"Physicians should pay close attention to patients' oral health, particularly those receiving treatment for hypertension [high blood pressure], and urge those with signs of periodontal disease to seek dental care," said lead author Dr. Davide Pietropaoli. He's a doctor of dental surgery at the University of L'Aquila in Italy.
Pietropaoli added that dental health professionals should keep in mind that oral health is "indispensable" to overall health.
While the study only found an association, the findings suggest that people with gum disease may require closer blood pressure monitoring, and those with high blood pressure might benefit from regular dental care, according to the authors.
The study was published Oct. 22 in the journal Hypertension.
"Patients with high blood pressure and the clinicians who care for them should be aware that good oral health may be just as important in controlling the condition as are several lifestyle interventions known to help control blood pressure, such as a low-salt diet, regular exercise and weight control," Pietropaoli said in a journal news release.
Worldwide, high blood pressure affects up to 40 percent of people 25 and older. Left untreated, it can lead to heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and kidney disease.
Red, swollen or tender gums, and bleeding while brushing and flossing are signs of gum disease.