Preventing Stroke by… Brushing Your Teeth?

Even children know about the importance of regular brushing and flossing. Those who don’t take care of their teeth will likely find themselves dealing with multiple cavities, among other dental problems. But suppose all that brushing and flossing could also help prevent stroke? 

DNA Evidence 

According to researchers at Finland’s Tampere University, the presence of oral bacteria might lead to a greater risk of stroke. This report, which appeared in the Journal of the American Heart Association, based its conclusions on clot samples from 75 stroke victims. All of these subjects were treated at Tampere University Hospital’s Acute Stroke Unit. 

Each of these subjects had their clots removed via thrombectomies, a procedure in which such blockages are extracted through the body’s arteries. Upon examining these blood clots, the authors found that most of them (79%) contained DNA usually found in oral bacteria. 

Bacteria and Blockages 

This is hardly the first time that oral bacteria has been found in blood clots. In fact, Tampere University researchers have spent a decade studying this very topic, uncovering oral bacteria in blood clots linked to heart attacks, brain aneurysms, and thrombosis in leg veins and arteries. What makes this recent report stand out is that it is the first to connect such bacteria to stroke .

So does this mean that those with poor dental hygiene are at more at risk of suffering stroke? Not so fast. The authors caution that the oral bacteria observed in the clots might not be the culprits behind strokes, but instead could just play the role of “bystander.” Nonetheless, since the authors are still not sure of how these bacteria relate to strokes, they advise that “regular dental care should be emphasized in the primary prevention of [acute ischemic stroke].”

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