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Poor Dental Hygiene Is Harmful For Your Heart

 The idea that poor dental hygiene can lead to hearts attack and strokes may seem farfetched but this is exactly what recent studies show. Several studies have suggested that plaque-causing bacteria in the mouth may increase the risk of heart attacks and stroke. But how do the bacteria in our mouth reach our heart?

 
A study suggests that when we don't practice good dental habits like regular brushing and flossing with dental equipment, bacteria proliferate in our mouth causing gum inflammation or gingivitis. One of the symptoms of gingivitis is bleeding gums which provide oral bacteria the entryway into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria stick to platelets which then bind together forming blood clots inside the arteries. The blood clots may stick to the walls of the arteries, blocking blood supply to the heart and brain. When blood does not flow to the heart and brain, heart attack and stroke ensues.
 
Although most people are now well aware of the effects of blood pressure, cholesterol, diet and exercise on the heart, it is important that the public be made aware of the importance of the role of good oral hygiene in preventing cardiovascular disease. When proper brushing and flossing habits are not maintained, the streptococcus bacteria are allowed to build up in the mouth. When resulting plaque is not regularly removed gums become irritated, eventually leading to the first stage of gum disease, gingivitis. Gingivitis can then proceed to the more advanced stage of gum disease, full-fledged periodontal disease, if left untreated. Once the gums begin to bleed the bacteria that are present are allowed into the bloodstream.
 
In the above-mentioned study it was discovered that once the streptococcus bacteria get into the bloodstream, they are able to use a protein that binds to the outer surface and forces blood platelets to make clots. The bacteria completely encase themselves in platelets that become clumped together, essentially shielding them from antibiotics. The clumping effect of the platelets serves to produce inflammation in the blood vessels. It is this inflammation that then causes the blood clots that can block blood flow to the brain and heart.
 
Determining how the protein used by the streptococcus bacteria causes the platelets to clump together is the next priority. A study is currently underway to ascertain ways to keep this from happening. In the meantime, regular brushing and flossing can go a long way to prevent these bacteria from building up in your mouth. Brushing twice a day with dental x rays, after meals and at bedtime is essential, as is flossing at least once-preferably before bed. Flossing allows us to reach areas in the teeth that a toothbrush cannot typically reach. Removing the plaque that can build up in these hard-to-reach places is important in the fight against gum disease. Regular dental checkups are also important as only a professional cleaning can remove the tartar that builds up along the gum line.