Understanding the Link Between Oral Bacteria and Stroke

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Understanding the Link Between Oral Health and Stroke in Columbus, OH

It’s no secret among Columbus elder care providers that oral hygiene plays an important role in senior health. Previous research has already linked oral bacteria to an increased risk of both heart disease and COPD. A 2006 study conducted by the Boston University School of Dental Medicine found that people missing all or some teeth due to periodontal disease are also at a higher risk of stroke. Additionally, a new study published in Scientific Reports has found a new link between different types of stroke and the presence of oral bacteria.

There are two broad types of strokes: hemorrhagic strokes, in which blood vessels rupture in the brain and cause bleeding, and ischemic strokes, which are caused by a blockage in one or more blood vessels. In a new study that consists of those admitted into a hospital for acute stroke, researchers found a relationship between oral bacteria and hemorrhagic stroke. Among those with intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), 26 percent had a specific kind of bacteria known as Streptococcus mutans in their saliva. Only six percent of people with other types of stroke had the bacterium in their systems.

The researchers also studied MRIs of people for the presence of cerebral microbleeds, or small hemorrhages, which can underlie intracerebral hemorrhages. The team found that the number of microbleeds were much higher in those with the oral bacteria.

The plaque that develops on teeth is the same plaque responsible for heart attacks. Bacteria in dental plaque are capable of escaping and entering the bloodstream where they can travel through arteries and result in blood clots. Researchers believe that the bacteria bind to blood vessels already weakened by high blood pressure or age, which leads to ruptures in the brain.

About 10 percent of the general population has these bacteria, which are known to cause cavities. The study shows just how important it is to maintain good oral health, not only for healthy teeth and gums but also to support healthy brain and heart function. In addition to heart disease and stroke, researchers are also investigating a link between oral bacteria and the development of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Seniors often struggle with oral hygiene due to numerous physical or mental limitations. Fortunately, Home Care Assistance of Columbus offers custom care schedules to help seniors manage activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and dental care. In addition to personal care assistance, our experienced caregivers offer emotional support and companionship to promote wellbeing and self-esteem. Call us today at (614) 481-8888 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about Home Care Assistance.


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