Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections

woman getting her teeth looked at(BlackDoctor.org) — Taking good care of teeth and gums may be crucial in preventing heart valve infection, a U.S. study finds.

Researchers examined 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 antibiotics.