Dental hygienists and nurses currently undergoing teeth whitening training should always stress the importance of good oral hygiene to their patients, especially given the results of a new study revealing an association between oral bacteria and certain types of stroke.
Conducted by scientists at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and those at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Japan, the study involved observing stroke patients to understand the relationship between oral bacteria and haemorrhagic stroke.
Among those people with intracerebral haemorrhage, 26 per cent had a specific bacterium in their saliva. For those with other types of stroke, just six per cent tested positive for this.
Dr Robert Friedland, co-author of the research, said: "This study shows that oral health is important for brain health. People need to take care of their teeth because it is good for their brain and their heart, as well as their teeth. The study and related work in our labs have shown that oral bacteria are involved in several kinds of stroke, including brain haemorrhages and strokes that lead to dementia."
It's also vital that you tell your patients to focus on gum health as part of their oral hygiene regime. Gum disease can increase a patient's risk of diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease, as well as stroke. As such, it's your responsibility as a dental practitioner to tell your patients just how important it is to focus on oral health and dental hygiene. Of course, you can't make them brush and floss twice a day, but you can tell them what they need to do and how to do it.