Poor dental hygiene increases risk of heart attack and stroke

Posted on Sept. 11, 2008, 6:54 a.m. in Bone and Dental Cardio-Vascular

Not brushing your teeth may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, according to the results of a recent study.

More than 700 different types of bacteria live in the mouth. Poor dental hygiene allows these bacteria to flourish, and bleeding gums gives them direct access to the bloodstream. Professor Howard Jenkinson, from the University of Bristol, England, and colleagues who led the study found that certain types of bacteria stick onto platelets causing the platelets to clump together and encase the bacteria, thus creating small blood clots.

The formation of these small blood clots increases a person's risk of having a stroke or a heart attack. It also enables the bacteria to evade detection by the immune system and protects them from antibiotics, thus explaining why antibiotics do not always work when they are used to treat infectious heart disease.

"Cardiovascular disease is currently the biggest killer in the western world. Oral bacteria such as Streptococcus gordonii and Streptococcus sanguinis are common infecting agents, and we now recognise that bacterial infections are an independent risk factor for heart diseases,” Said Professor Jenkins in a press release. “In other words it doesn't matter how fit, slim or healthy you are, you're adding to your chances of getting heart disease by having bad teeth."

Press release: Bleeding gums increase risk of heart disease. University of Bristol website. September 11th 2008.

 

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