Strokes are terrifying. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what kind of healthy you’re in, or how well you take care of yourself: a cerebral hemorrhage can strike at any age, anytime, and anywhere. People young and old both have strokes, many of which put them in the hospital or worse.
It stands to reason that you would do anything you could to prevent a stroke from happening to yourself or someone you love. Predisposition to a stroke can run in families, so for many people it’s a battle against every possible risk factor that you can eliminate.
Our Orlando dental team is excited by a recent scientific study: results show that practicing good oral hygiene can actually reduce your risk of having a stroke! If you needed yet another reason to take good care of your teeth you have one!
Strokes And Oral Hygiene: What’s The Connection?
We’ve known for a while that oral health can have a huge effect on your body, and that includes the health of your brain. Patients with bad teeth end up having many more medical problems than those with a healthy smile on a pretty consistent basis.
The study that recently pointed to a solid link between oral bacteria and strokes had some interesting findings: patients in the hospital for strokes had more than four times the concentration of Streptococcus mutans bacteria in their mouths than other patients tested!
- mutans is a major player in the development of oral health conditions like tooth decay and gum disease. The study argues that S. mutans can bind to blood cells, and when it does it ends up making its way to the brain, where it can do serious damage leading to hemorrhaging, stroke, and possible death.
How Bacteria Makes It From Your Teeth To Your Brain
Wait a second, you’re thinking, how does bacteria get from your mouth into your bloodstream? If you’re not bleeding you should be safe, right? Not exactly. There are a few ways that you could end up letting bacteria like S. mutans into your bloodstream, and many of them won’t even be noticeable.
We’ll start with the obvious one: gum disease. One of the first symptoms of gum disease is bleeding gums. They bleed because of constant inflammation caused by the bacteria under your gumline, and after a while they’re sure to break.
You can also end up with oral bacteria in your blood due to tooth decay, and that’s much more difficult to notice. When cavities go deep enough they end up at the roots of the teeth. Once there bacteria quickly infects the dental pulp, a soft tissue full of blood vessels and nerves. Infected pulp can easily spread bacteria and infection around the body where it can do a whole bunch of nasty things.
Minimizing Your Risks
It can be a lot to take in. Around ten percent of the general population has S. mutans hanging around in their mouths, so while you might not be carrying it you’re no less at risk for gum disease, tooth decay, or strokes. When it comes to your health there’s always a good reason to say better safe than sorry!
We can treat gum disease at our Orlando office, but there’s something better than treating it: preventing it. By practicing good oral hygiene you can easily minimize your risks and keep your teeth, gums, and brain happy for years to come.
We like to practice the three pillars of oral hygiene: brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings. All three of these practices are just as important as the next, and removing one of them will quickly tip the scales in favor of gum disease and decay.
- Brush twice daily, and always be sure to do it for at least two minutes each time. Use a soft bristled brush held at a 45 degree angle to your gumline. Brush in small strokes about a tooth wide. Be sure to hit all the surfaces
- Floss nightly! Make sure to get between each pair of teeth, down into the gumline, and up both sides.
- See us at Overmeyer Family Dental every six months for a cleaning and exam. This will re-establish a good starting point for your hygiene practice and also allow us to diagnose and treat any problems well before they’re serious.
Don’t Take Chances With Your Health
This is just one way in which your bodily health can be affected by your teeth. Don’t let it happen when the alternative can be so easy to prevent!