How Brushing Teeth Can Help Prevent Meningitis
Bad oral health has already been linked to heart disease and dementia, but researchers have also recently found that a common type of bacteria that grows in the mouth could cause meningitis, a potentially deadly condition involving inflammation of the membrane that protects the brain. Streptococcus tigurinus was detected in blood samples taken from meningitis patients. Having also found the bacterium in the blood of patients with endocarditis, infection of the heart, and spondylodiscitis, inflammation of the spine, researchers noted that this microorganism carries the potential for major harm.
Like other oral bacteria, Streptococcus tigurinus is normally found in the mouth but can travel through the body if it enters the blood stream. Periodontitis can easily let these bacteria into the blood by opening fissures in the gums. Once in the blood stream, the bacteria may cause meningitis if they travel to the brain. Initial symptoms of meningitis include neck stiffness, fever, drowsiness and confusion, but permanent disability or death can occur if treatment is delayed.
Gum disease is common, but it can often be prevented and reversed with proper dental hygiene and treatment. Daily brushing and flossing and regular check-ups are essential. To stop and reverse early gum disease, our expert in dental cleaning in West Hollywood may recommend scaling and root planing along with antimicrobial rinses. Advanced periodontitis may require gum flap surgery or tissue grafting for a successful recovery.
The connection between bad oral health and systemic disease continues to be strengthened by new studies. To learn more about how to keep the mouth healthy and prevent oral bacteria from entering the blood stream, patients can schedule a consultation with our dentist.
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