How Cavity-Causing Microbes Invade Heart
Scientists have identified the protein that allows Streptococcus mutans to gain a foothold in heart tissue in a study appearing in the journal Infection and Immunity. Normally, S. mutans confines its mischief to the mouth, but sometimes, particularly after a dental procedure or even a vigorous bout of flossing, the bacteria enter the bloodstream. There, the immune system usually destroys them, but occasionally they travel to the heart and colonize its tissue, especially the valves. The bacteria can cause endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart valves, which can be deadly. Until more research is done and a screening or preventive tool is in place, researchers say the usual advice for good oral health still stands: “No matter what types of bacteria a person has in his or her mouth, they should do the same things to maintain good oral health. They should brush and floss their teeth regularly. The smaller the number of S. mutans in your mouth, the healthier you’ll be.”
Science Daily – June 28
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