Brush your teeth twice a day to keep your heart healthyDeadly bacteria could enter the bloodstream through bleeding gums
23:06 GMT, 25 March 2012
Failing to brush your teeth properly could lead to potentially fatal heart problems, scientists have found.
Bacteria that loiter in the mouth can cause life-threatening blood clots which could trigger the rare condition infective endocarditis.
Researchers will describe how the streptococcus gordonii bug can enter the bloodstream through bleeding gums at the Society for General Microbiology’s conference today.
Good habits: Brushing your teeth helps remove bacteria that could cause killer blood clots and even the rare heart condition infective endocarditis
Once in the blood, the bacteria can prompt the blood to clot. Hidden inside the clots, the bacteria are shielded from the immune system and antibiotics.
If the clots grow on heart valves, they can cause infective endocarditis – when the valve becomes infected causing serious and sometimes fatal damage.
The scientists from Bristol University and the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin will tell the conference they hope to develop new drugs to prevent blood clots and infective endocarditis.
A 2010 study found poor oral hygiene is linked to an increased risk of other heart conditions such as heart attacks or strokes.
Professor Damien Walmsley, of the British Dental Association, said: ‘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.’