Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against
June 9 (HealthDay News) -- Taking good care of teeth and gums may be
crucial in preventing heart valve infection, a U.S. study finds.
whether daily dental activities such as brushing were as likely as
major dental procedures such as tooth extraction to cause infective
endocarditis (IE), a dangerous infection of the lining of the heart or
heart valve that can occur when bacteria enter the bloodstream.
In the study of 290
dental patients, researchers analyzed the amount of bacteria released
into the bloodstream (bacteremia) during tooth brushing and tooth
extraction, with and without antibiotics. Blood samples were taken from
the patients before, during and after these activities, and analyzed
for bacterial species associated with IE.
The researchers found
the incidence of IE-related bacteremia from tooth brushing (23 percent)
was closer to that of extraction than expected -- 33 percent for
extraction with antibiotics and 60 percent for extraction without
"This suggests that
bacteria get into the bloodstream hundreds of times a year, not only
from tooth brushing, but also from other routine activities like
chewing food," study author Peter Lockhart, chairman of the department
of oral medicine at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C.,
said in a prepared statement.
"While the likelihood
of bacteremia is lower with brushing, these routine daily activities
likely pose a greater risk for IE simply due to frequency: that is,
bacteremia from brushing twice a day for 365 days a year versus once or
twice a year for dental office visits involving teeth cleaning, or
fillings or other procedures," Lockhart said.
"For people who are
not at risk for infections such as IE, the short-term bacteremia is
nothing to worry about," he noted.
you stop oral hygiene measures, the amount of disease in your mouth
goes up considerably and progressively, and you'll have far worse oral
disease. It's the gingival [gum] disease and dental caries [decay] that
lead to chronic and acute infections such as abscesses. It's that sort
of thing that puts you at risk for frequent bacteremia, and presumably
endocarditis if you have a heart or other medical condition that puts
you at risk."
Fillings a Danger: FDA
metal fillings, known as amalgams to dentists, may pose a threat to
pregnant women, children and fetuses. This news was released
following a settlement in a lawsuit against the FDA. According to
the FDA Web site, "Dental amalgams
contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous
systems of developing children and fetuses."
Consumer advocacy groups attribute multiple sclerosis and
Alzheimer’s as possible health problems that can be caused by the
mercury in the fillings.
An alternative to the
mercury based amalgams is a composite resin filling. We can
discuss this type of material with you should you require a
restoration. We will be watching developments on this news to
determine how it may be affecting dental treatments. Be sure to
check our web site for updated information on mercury based amalgam