06 Jul The Common Thread between Dental Disease and Stomach Ulcers
It used to be commonly believed that most stomach ulcers were the direct result of stomach acid overproduction and treatment was limited to controlling the acid production of affected stomachs. However, it has since been discovered that certain bacteria that form in the mouth via poor dental hygiene can also cause stomach ulcers.
It has been found in studies, such as the one conducted at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that stomach ulcers are more likely to occur if an overabundance of a certain bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori accumulates in the stomach. This type of bacteria is gram negative, meaning that it requires little or no oxygen to thrive. Because the stomach does not contain much oxygen, H. pylori readily multiply in this environment causing lesions in the stomach lining which lead to ulcers.
The human mouth contains somewhere in the area of 700 different kinds of bacteria, some of which are beneficial to mouth health and others which are detrimental. Although the majority of bacteria growing in the mouth are gram positive (needing oxygen to grow and produce energy), one of the types is H. pylori which tends to incubate best at the gum line. H.pylori and several other gram negative types of bacterium are largely responsible for the formation of gingivitis (inflammation and bleeding gums) as well as periodontitis (deterioration of the gums and underlying jawbone).
If a person has poor oral health habits, the buildup of various bacterium, including gram negative types like H. pylori, cause dental disease. It was found in the above study that pockets of H. pylori develop in patients of poor dental hygiene, especially when periodontitis is present. H. pylori bacteria are then swallowed on a consistent basis, entering the stomach and increasing the chances for stomach ulcers. The mentioned study found that in 65 percent of test subjects H. pylori was found within their dental plaque. Of this number, 50 percent of patients also had the bacterium present in their stomachs.
The practice of good oral health is a good preventative measure for stomach ulcers. Daily brushing and flossing will greatly reduce the amount of H. pylori and other detrimental bacteria from forming in your mouth. The less H. pylori present in the mouth, the less will enter the stomach greatly reducing stomach ulcer risk. It is recommended that regularly scheduled visits to a dental professional are also included in your oral health routine so that any problems can be detected and treated as soon as possible.
Want to see all the other health issues that can stem from not taking care of your teeth? Check out our interactive dental resource! It’ll change the way you think about oral health!
This article is part of our blog series, “The Deadly Consequences of Poor Dental Care“
Mohammed Al Asqah, Nawaf Al Hamoudi, Sukumaran Anil, Abdulrahman Al jebreen, Waleed Khalid Al-hamoudi. “Is the presence of Helicobacter pylori in the dental plaque of patients with chronic periodontitis a risk factor for gastric infection?”Can J Gastroenterol. 2009 March; 23(3): 177–179.