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Can a Tooth Infection Cause High Blood Pressure?

Severe tooth infections can potentially cause high blood pressure but if it's only mild to moderate, you won't get an increase in blood pressure. Regardless of your hypertension status from a dental infection, you will need to see a dentist to have it properly treated.


When tooth infections cause high blood pressure

Only severe dental infections can cause high blood pressure such as a severe toothache or a severe tooth abscess with swelling. The severity of these two oral conditions can potentially elevate your blood pressure if they are left untreated.


Severe toothache

A throbbing toothache can be so intense that it disrupts your everyday life and prevents you from performing daily activities. It can be so intense that we've had patients hopping around the office as if they were playing hop-scotch. Yes, that is literally how bad some toothaches can get.


Cavity into the nerve
Cavity into the nerve

Oral conditions that cause a raging toothache:

  • Cavity into the tooth nerve

  • Exposed nerve


tooth pulp exposure
tooth pulp exposure

The intensities of these types of tooth pains can elevate your blood pressure.


Abscess with swelling

A dental abscess with significant facial swelling can be incredibly painful and disfiguring. The sight of it when you look into the mirror will get anyone's heart pounding and consequently a rise in blood pressure.


throat swelling from dental infection
throat swelling from dental infection

Make no mistake, these are dental emergencies and it would behoove you to seek professional help immediately. If left alone, you may need to be hospitalized for the infection to be properly treated.


 

When it won't cause high blood pressure

Mild to moderate dental infections (enamel/dentin decay, fractured teeth, abscesses without swelling) usually do not result in an increase of blood pressure. These conditions aren't severe enough to make an impact on your cardiothoracic system.


Enamel and dentin decay

Tooth decay which has not yet reached the pulp will not affect your blood pressure. As a matter of fact, most people present with no symptoms (asymptomatic) and are usually unaware they even have cavities.


enamel decay on side of molar
enamel decay on side of molar

Decay on the side of the teeth are usually quite easy to see but the in between cavities that are into the dentin cannot be visualized without x-rays.


x-ray of cavity in between teeth
x-ray of cavity in between teeth

In the x-ray above you can see a large dark circle in the in between area of the upper premolar.


Fractured teeth

You may be surprised but most people don't have elevated blood pressure from cracked teeth. They may be feeling highly concerned but the pressure won't go up because of it.


Fractured distal half of molar
Fractured distal half of molar

The photo above shows an upper molar that fractured and is literally missing the back half. Surprisingly the patient was NOT in pain at all nor were their heart pounding out of their chest.


Abscess without swelling

Not all dental abscesses present with grotesque facial swelling and a classic example of this is a gum boil. It typically presents as a reddish pimple on the gums which may or may not be oozing pus.


gum boil in middle of molar
gum boil in middle of molar

The photo above shows a molar tooth with a gum boil. The patient was not in pain nor did they even realize that it was there. As you guessed, they had normal blood pressure!


 

All dental infections need to be treated

Whether you have high blood pressure or not from a suspected tooth infection, it will need to be treated by a dentist. The reason being there is no way to get rid of the infection without professional help.


Nonetheless, the elevated blood pressure is an indication of urgency. Dental infection with raised blood pressure is more urgent/emergent than one without.


What that means:

  • Infection with raised blood pressure means you should drop everything that you're doing and seek help immediately.

  • Infection without blood pressure change means you should have it treated as soon as possible. Preferably today if you're able to.


With that being said, a good rule of thumb is that if you suspect that you have an oral infection you should schedule a dental consultation. If you're nearby in Long Island City, NY one of our dentists can assist you with that!

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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