- March 25, 2016
An unhealthy mouth can have a huge impact on your body: you can end up with increased risks of heart disease, hypertension, nutritional deficiencies, and even strokes. A recent study has discovered a link between a particular kind of oral bacteria and your risk of having a stroke.
This is potentially terrifying news, especially if your family has a history of strokes or other cerebral hemorrhages. It doesn’t mean that you are doomed, however. It’s not difficult to manage your oral health and minimize your risks at our Shorewood dentist office!
Strokes And Oral Health: What’s The Connection
It might seem like an odd connection to draw, but the research speaks for itself. There’s a strain of bacteria called Streptococcus mutans that is present in only about ten percent of people’s mouths, yet is present in around a third of stroke victims.
S. mutans, the researchers argue, is able to make its way to the brain through the bloodstream. Once there it contributes to cerebral hemorrhages, and is responsible for a number of deaths each year.
We’ve known for a while that there was a connection between oral health and strokes: there are remarkably higher rates of oral health complications in stroke victims. What we didn’t know until recently was the connection that S. mutans has, and how it is able to get to the brain: by latching on to red blood cells and then to weakened veins in the brain.
How Oral Health Problems Increase Your Stroke Risk
You may be thinking that bacteria would have a hard time getting into your bloodstream from your mouth. After all, you don’t typically bleed from the mouth! The oral health problems caused by S. mutans, however, are the exact kinds of issues that lead to bleeding and transmission to the veins!
One of the earliest signs of gum disease is puffiness and bleeding in the gums. If you’ve ever noticed blood when you spit out your toothpaste what you’re seeing is the effects of gum disease first hand. If you’re one of the 10 percent of people who have S. mutans in your mouth then you’ve just opened up the perfect passage for it! Bacteria is always seeking out warm dark places to hide – what better places than an open vein?
You may not even notice that oral bacteria is getting into your bloodstream, especially if you have a cavity. Tooth decay that makes its way to the root of a tooth infects the soft dental pulp that lives there. The pulp contains a lot of blood vessels that feed the tooth, and bacteria will have no problem getting into your bloodstream from there.
Prolonged dental problems only raise your risk of stroke, and even other bacterial infections! Preventing this kind of harm requires dedicated and disciplined oral health habits.
How To Minimize Your Risks
Being a carrier of S. mutans is just a risk factor – it isn’t a guarantee that you’ll suffer from a stroke. When it comes to health risk factors of any kind the most important thing is minimizing them as best you can. Thankfully good oral hygiene isn’t that difficult, provided you follow three essential tenets: brush twice a day, floss every night, and have an exam and cleaning every six months.
All three of those practices are essential to good dental health. If you remove even one of them you’re exposing yourself to a lot of risk – oral bacteria accumulates fast! If you don’t keep it in check you’ll soon find yourself overwhelmed by tooth decay, gum disease, and other problems.
No matter how well you take care of your teeth at home you also have to take professional exams and cleanings seriously. A six month window is the perfect amount of time for us to notice problems at their earliest stages and to remove plaque built up in places that brushing and flossing can’t get. If you never have professional exams and cleanings you’ll end up with complications in spots you can’t see, which makes them even more dangerous!
Keep Your Smile – And Your Mind – Healthy The Easy Way
Prevention can make a huge difference for your teeth and for the rest of your body as well. Don’t take chances with your oral health when so much could be at stake. Our Shorewood team wants to make your care simple, and it starts with that first call to 815-768-1615.
If you would prefer, you can also request an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you soon!