Why Brushing Your Teeth Could Save Your Life

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A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville School of Medicine suggests that brushing your teeth could be even more important than first thought. Their research claims that good oral hygiene could reduce your risk of suffering a stroke.

A team of researchers analysed data from patients admitted to hospital with an acute stroke and found that harmful bacteria associated with oral diseases may be a major risk factor. More than a quarter of patients who had a haemorrhagic stroke were also found to have a strain of bacteria known as streptococcus mutans in their saliva samples. Patients who had experienced different types of stroke, such as ischaemic strokes, were significantly less likely to test positive for the bacteria – only 6 percent had positive tests.

Researchers believe the presence of streptococcus mutans could increase the risk of haemorrhagic strokes by clinging to blood vessels and gradually causing them to become weak and rupture. The bacteria may be particularly dangerous when attached to vessels that have already become weak as a result of ageing or abnormal blood pressure. An estimated 10 percent of the population has streptococcus mutans and the bacterium is known to increase the risk of dental decay and gum disease.

Professor Robert Friedland, co-author of the study, suggested that the findings underline the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene. Previous studies have already linked poor oral health to heart problems and this new research claims that looking after your teeth can also benefit your brain.

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