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Good oral care could save your life

Tue

According to a recent scientific study, failing to brush your teeth properly could have a serious impact on the health of your heart. Researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin have revealed that harmful bacteria found in the mouth can cause life-threatening blood clots, and could also trigger the rare condition infective endocarditis.

The killer bug – called streptococcus gordonii – enters the bloodstream through bleeding gums and thickens the blood, causing it to clot. Inside the thick clots, the bacteria are protected from the body’s natural defences and any antibiotics that might be prescribed, leaving it free to cause havoc with the immune system and organ function. Infective endocarditis could develop if the clots grow on the valves of the heart; a dangerous and possibly fatal condition.

Scientists from Bristol University were also involved in the study and joined their colleagues from Dublin at a conference last week for the Society for General Microbiology. Both sets of researchers are hoping to create a new drug to combat infective endocarditis and prevent blood clots forming on the heart.

Professor Damien Walmsley, of the British Dental Association, spoke of similar results after a study in 2010; ‘The findings contribute to our understanding of the relationship between gum disease and heart disease. It also underlines the importance of brushing teeth twice a day.’

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