Eastman Dental Institute


Gum disease leads to systemic inflammation and high blood pressure

24 September 2020

New paper by UCL Eastman Dental Institute reveals the results from two large populations‐based surveys.

Graphic illustrating the connection between periodontitis and hypertension

A new paper published by Dr Eva Muñoz Aguilera and colleagues has suggested systemic inflammation could be the link between gum disease (periodontitis) and high blood pressure (hypertension).

Previous research suggested a direct relationship between the two conditions, although the exact mechanism underpinning this remained unknown.

The new study looked at common inflammatory markers, C-reactive protein (CRP) and leukocyte counts (WBC) in almost a quarter of a million individuals.

Dr Aguilera said: “We analysed two large and representative surveys of the US and Korean populations looking at the association between periodontitis and hypertension. 

“Periodontitis increased the odds of hypertension by up to 60% in both populations and this association was accompanied by raised levels of CRP and WBC.

“This suggests a possible time sequence: gum disease causing systemic inflammation which might in turn lead to high blood pressure.”

Professor Francesco D'Aiuto said: “It is our hope that the public and health professionals become aware of this association.

"Indeed, if proven causal, periodontitis treatment would represent a novel, non-pharmacological intervention in assisting hypertension management and its complications."

The group now plans a large interventional study to prove that the association between periodontitis and hypertension is causal whilst continuing to investigate the mechanisms behind the link. 

Sources of Funding
This work was undertaken at UCLH/UCL, funded by the Department of Health’s NIHR Biomedical Research Centre; Dr Leira holds a Senior Clinical Research Fellowship supported by the UCL Biomedical Research Centre; Marco Orlandi holds a NIHR Clinical Lectureship. Tomasz J. Guzik is funded by European Research Council.

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