You already know how important it is to take care of your teeth and gums. But as you get older, that gets harder to do. Sometimes, the medications you may be on dry up your mouth--and because saliva has anti-bacterial properties, a dry mouth can leave you prone to cavity-causing bacteria.
And that can be harmful not only to your oral health, but the rest of your body, too. Scientists have long known that there's a link between gum disease and diabetes, heart disease, and other health conditions. But now a new study is linking a certain type of bacteria, called cnm-positive S. mutans, with an increased risk of strokes.
Strokes, whether severe or not, can be dangerous. If one ruptures blood vessels and causes bleeding in the brain, it can leave a person paralyzed and unable to speak. Smaller strokes, which block blood vessels, can lead to dementia.
When researchers in Japan looked at the number of patients admitted to the hospital for stroke, they found that a little over one-fourth had cnm-positive S. mutans in their mouths. Researchers speculated that the bacteria could then migrate from the mouth to the bloodstream, binding themselves to blood vessels weakened by high-blood pressure and age.
The bottom line: Take care of your teeth, especially if you have high-blood pressure, another big risk factor for strokes. See your dentist more often if you need to, and don't forget to brush and floss.
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