We focus on your dental health and how it affects your overall health quite often here and hold on to your hats because we’re going to go into it once more. Researchers recently identified a strain of oral bacteria that is linked to both heart disease and meningitis.
The researchers had been analyzing this bacteria for a little while now with patients suffering from endocarditis, meningitis, and spondylodiscitis. When they discovered that it bore a distinct resemblance to Streptococcus bacteria that grow in the mouth, they started to investigate if the mouth is indeed the bacteria’s original dwelling. Their intuitions were correct.
As such, they believe that bleeding gums are a possible route for the bacteria to take to enter the bloodstream and cause these blood infections. From the lead researcher, Dr. Andrea Zbinden:
This bacterium seems to have a natural potential to cause severe disease and so it’s important that clinicians and microbiologists are aware of it. The next step is to work out exactly how common this bacterium is in the oral cavity and what risk it poses. Immunosuppression, abnormal heart valves, dental surgeries or chronic diseases are common predisposing factors for blood infections by this group of bacteria. However, the specific risk factors for S. tigurinus remain to be determined.
The mouth is full of harmful bacteria that can be prompted to grow to exponential amounts by simply not taking care of your teeth. This bacteria is just another that is linked to potentially causing severe harm if left to its own devices and given a habitable place to live. If your gums are bleeding, don’t ignore it. If you have any abnormal swelling or pain in your mouth, alert a dentist. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss at most once a day, and get your teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist twice a year. And most importantly, realize that your dental health does affect your overall health.
The study was published in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology on 21 February.