16 Jun Stroke Risk Doubled by Poor Oral Health
Poor oral health practices and higher risk of stroke have been linked through research conducted at both the University at Buffalo (New York) and the University of Bristol, England. University of Buffalo researchers revealed in 2000 that there was a direct link between cerebrovascular and periodontal disease. The conclusion of the Buffalo study found that those suffering from severe cases of gum disease are twice as likely to develop conditions that lead to strokes than those who maintain good oral health.
Strokes caused by the blockage of arteries are the most common occurrence and this is the type of stroke directly affected by periodontal disease. There are over 700 variances of bacteria that grow and thrive in the mouth. The bacteria, along with their bacterial by-products such as endotoxins, are released from infected cavities and gum pockets. Once released from their place of incubation, these bacteria and by-products enter the circulatory system and produce a response from the body to fight inflammation. This causes cells to multiply and produce the possibility of clotting in blood vessels. These bacteria can also attack and damage endothelial cells in the lining of blood vessels.
University of Buffalo researchers also found that the bacteria from periodontal infections were present in plaque of the carotid arteries removed through surgical procedures. Further findings by researchers at the University of Bristol, England revealed that periodontal pathogens have the ability to cause blood platelets to collect and cause clotting through plaque formation. It was also discovered that periodontal bacteria had the ability to avoid immune system detection making them largely unaffected by antibiotics.
The conclusion of these studies helped to reveal that poor oral health was a significant factor for risks in cerebrovascular events, particularly in non-hemorrhagic strokes where it can manifest a two-fold increase. This is an alarming breakthrough revealing that periodontitis (severe gum infection) is not only a major contributor towards adult tooth loss, but is also a factor in strokes and other forms of disease.
These findings point out the importance of maintaining good oral health through daily brushing and flossing as well as regular dental checkups. The practice of dental hygiene, in this case, can cut risks of stroke in half for those who practice it.
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This article is part of our blog series, “The Deadly Consequences of Poor Dental Care“
Scannapieco FA, Bush RB, Paju S. “Associations Between Periodontal Disease and Risk for Atherosclerosis, Cardiovascular Disease, and Stroke: a Systematic Review.” Annals of Periodontology, 2003; 8:38-53