Written by Dentistry Today Monday, 27 June 2011 14:49
Scientists may have made a breakthrough discovery regarding cavity-causing bacteria and the impact it has on the heart. With this information, there may be some kind of test—using saliva or a cheek swab—to determine a patient’s susceptibility to endocarditis, a lethal, bacteria-causing infection of the heart.
The June issue of Infection explains how the Streptococcus mutans gains entry into the heart tissue. These bacteria inhabit dental plaque, and eventually maintain a place in the oral cavity while eroding teeth.
The bacteria generally stay in the mouth, but there are cases in which it enters the bloodstream during a dental procedure or while flossing. The immune system eradicates the bacteria most of the time, but it’s possible for the bacteria to move onto the heart tissue. If the result is inflamed heart valves, the condition may be fatal.