Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Postmenopausal women who go through tooth loss also have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, a study says.
A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension followed nearly 37,000 women from 1998 to 2015 after their first periodontal assessment and found that they had about a 20 percent increased risk of developing hypertension.
The connection is greatest among younger, postmenopausal women and women with lower body mass index.
While the study's researchers found no direct connection between periodontal disease and hypertension, the disease's effects can lead to developing different eating habits.
The researchers say people who lose their teeth often turn to eating more softer, processed foods with higher sodium content, which can cause high blood pressure.
The National Institute of Health says that over 10 percent of women between 35 to 49 and close to 12 percent of women between 50 to 64 have periodontal disease.
The researchers recommend better hygiene habits and more frequent blood pressure checks, as well as consuming foods with lower amounts of sodium and weight loss to reduce hypertension.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 75 million American adults have high blood pressure.
"These findings suggest tooth loss may be an important factor in the development of hypertension," Jean Wactawski-Wende, researcher at University of Buffalo and the study's senior author, said in a press release. "Further research may help us to determine the underlying mechanisms by which these two common diseases are associated."