Relationship between dental pain perception and 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure: a study on 181 subjects

J Hypertens. 1999 Dec;17(12 Pt 2):1799-804. doi: 10.1097/00004872-199917121-00003.


Objective: To investigate dental pain perception in a large group of essential hypertensive subjects.

Methods: A total of 130 hypertensive patients together with 51 normotensive subjects were submitted to tooth-electrical stimulation to determine the dental pain threshold (occurrence of pulp sensation) and tolerance (time when the subject asked for the test to be stopped). Blood pressure was measured at rest, before pain perception evaluation, and during a 24 h period by ambulatory monitoring.

Results: The normotensive and hypertensive subjects differed with regard to pain threshold (P = 0.002) and tolerance (P = 0.01). Pain perception variables were significantly correlated with both resting blood pressure and 24 h, diurnal and nocturnal arterial pressures, the correlation between pain threshold and 24 h systolic blood pressure being the most significant (r = 0.31, P < 0.0001). By contrast, parameters indicating 24 h blood pressure variability (percentage of nocturnal blood pressure reduction and 24 h blood pressure variation coefficients) were not associated with pain perception. Moreover, among the hypertensives only, a significant relationship was observed between pain sensitivity and both baseline and 24 h pressures. No association was found when pain perception and blood pressure were correlated in the normotensive group.

Conclusions: The correlation between both baseline and 24 h blood pressure and pain perception has been confirmed in a large group study of normotensive and hypertensive subjects. Moreover, even among the hypertensive range of blood pressure, the higher the blood pressure is, the lower the sensitivity to pain is. These findings strengthen the hypothesis of a role of the degree of blood pressure elevation in modulating pain sensitivity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure Monitoring, Ambulatory
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Reference Values
  • Tooth / physiopathology*