If you live with high blood pressure (also known as 'hypertension'), you already know the negative effects it has on your general health -- headaches and risk of stroke or heart disease are just a few of the problems you face. However, did you know that high blood pressure can also damage your oral health too? If you've been prescribed a CCB (calcium channel blocker) medication, you could be at risk of thickened, overgrown gums. Verapamil, diltiazem, amlodipine, felodipine, nifedipine and nimodipine all fall into this category of medicine.
Aside from being visually unappealing, engorged gums can cause problems with eating and make it difficult to remove all the plaque in your mouth. When you can't clean your teeth and gums properly, you're likely to contract gum disease (also known as 'gingivitis'). Once gingivitis progresses to 'periodontitis' (severe gum disease), you may even lose your teeth.
Losing your teeth because of hypertension is a scary thought, but it's not inevitable. Make sure you visit your periodontist for regular checkups, and follow these three tips for minimising your risk.
Change Your Medication
This option may not work for everyone, but it's sometimes possible to switch to a different pill to control your high blood pressure. There are several other antihypertensive medications available that don't have dangerous effects on the gums. Aside from calcium channel blockers, there are ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, thiazide diuretics, and angiotensin receptor blockers. Talk to your doctor about whether any of the medicines could work for you. All medications have different side effects, so it may not be in your best interest to switch. If not, there are still other ways to reduce your risk of periodontitis and tooth loss.
Clean Your Gums Thoroughly
Throughout your life, you're always told how important it is to keep your teeth clean. Far less attention is given to keeping your gums clean, but plaque around your gums is the cause of gingivitis and periodontitis. While brushing your teeth 2 to 3 times a day keeps the majority of your plaque at bay, it's not enough to remove all the bacteria. You still need to clean interdentally every day. Use interdental brushes to clean the area between your teeth -- these brushes come in a variety of sizes to suit every mouth. To get rid of bacteria under the gum line, use dental floss or floss picks. In addition, try to use fluoridated mouthwash regularly to protect your teeth.
See a Hygienist
A hygienist is a dental professional who specialises in cleaning your teeth, including cleaning underneath the gums. You should visit a hygienist several times a year so they can professionally clean the areas under your gums that you can't reach. For most people, a simple scaling and polish will suffice if done regularly. Your hygienist will use tools to scrape away plaque and calculus deposits from the surface of your tooth and your gumline; then they'll polish them clean. Scaling and polishing helps keep bacteria at bay as it's harder for plaque to harden onto a smooth surface. If you already have gingivitis, a more in-depth procedure may be needed, so it's important to consult a periodontist like Dr Edmond Lobaza in your area if you notice any bleeding or swelling.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved stories about the past. Whether the stories were about horses, wars, exploration or even dentistry, I loved to hear them. I find that knowing the history of something helps it to make sense and feel approachable. I know that some people have dental anxiety, and I too have suffered, but I also feel like the more you know about dental work and its history, the easier it is. This blog is dedicated to exploring the history of dentistry – What did ancient people use for fillings? How did early dentists numb their patients? Who was the first dentist? Those are just some of the questions I plan to answer here. Ready? Okay, let's dive into the history of dentistry together!