When Oral Bacteria Enter Your Blood Stream

oral bacteria and heart healthThe oral-systemic connection has been extensively researched, and so have the inhabitants of your mouth. For instance, we now know that tooth decay is related to the oral bacterium Streptococcus mutans. Experts have also uncovered that another bacterium in your mouth, Porphyromonas gingivalis, leads to gum disease by inciting your body’s inflammatory response to bacterial infection. P. gingivalis is also suspected to be associated with certain chronic systemic inflammatory diseases, including heart disease. Now, researchers have discovered that an additional mouth microbe, Streptococcus gordonni, can damage your health in a different way.

The Deceptive Mouth Germ

Studies have shown that bacteria within your mouth can escape into your bloodstream and cause trouble. Understanding this phenomena and its link to systemic diseases may facilitate an effective treatment for such diseases. In this endeavor, researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and the University of Bristol have been able to observe how S. gordonni can trigger blood clots and contribute to endocarditis. If allowed into the bloodstream, this microbe is able to produce a molecule on its surface that mimics fibrinogen, a human protein that is also a blood-clotting factor. Platelets react and clump together, forming blood clots around the bacteria that protect it from your body’s infection fighting agents. These clots can cause formations on the heart valve (endocarditis), as well as block blood flow to vital organs.

Taking the Fight to Oral Bacteria

Malicious bacteria in your mouth begin attacking your oral health almost immediately. In normal circumstances, such as a neutral pH (acid alkaline balance) and a manageable bacterial colony, your mouth’s natural defenses (i.e., saliva, tooth enamel, “good” bacteria, etc.) are capable of maintaining order. When “bad” bacteria accumulate, it grows stronger, becomes acidic, and is able to cause damage to your teeth and soft gum tissue. By brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day, you are able to remove bacteria before it can accumulate enough to effectively attack.

ABOUT YOUR SHREWSBURY DENTISTS:

At Modern Dentistry, Todd A. Pizzi, DDS, and Luciana Messina, DDS, are dedicated to providing high-quality cosmetic, restorative, and preventive dentistry services to patients and families in Shrewsbury, Worcester, North and South Grafton, Westborough, Southborough, Northborough, Boylston, Hopkinton, Millbury, and all surrounding communities. To schedule your next appointment, contact our office by calling (508) 842-6356 today.