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A Closer Look at How Oral Bacteria Can Cause Brain Abscesses

September 2, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_weinman @ 4:48 pm
oral bacteria inside of a patient’s mouth

It goes without saying that the human body is pretty complex; it includes a vast network of interconnected systems, each influencing others in ways that scientists are still discovering! That said, one of the surprising connections that’s been unearthed is the link between oral health and brain health. Believe it or not, the bacteria in your mouth that results from poor dental hygiene actually has the potential to trigger the formation of brain abscesses, among other issues. Keep reading to learn a little more from your dentist about how the bacteria in your mouth can influence your brain, along with some ways you can better protect yourself.

How Does Oral Bacteria Cause Brain Abscesses?

A brain abscess is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that’s characterized by a bacterial infection and collection of pus within the brain tissue. It can cause various symptoms like headaches, fevers, seizures, and even neurological deficits. Since your brain is housed within your head, the bacteria that causes abscesses must first travel there—and they access the bloodstream to do this.

The mouth is teeming with bacteria, some of which are harmless and vital to your wellness, but others which are harmful, and if you aren’t diligent about oral hygiene, these villainous bacteria can spread beyond the mouth and cause problems. Periodontal disease is one of the most common sources of harmful oral bacteria, and it’s estimated to affect around a fifth of the global population. 

Your bloodstream serves as the perfect vehicle for transporting these nasty oral bacteria to vital organs like the lungs, heart, and brain. One type of bacteria that’s often found in dental abscesses, called Streptococcus anginosus, has been known to lead to infections in internal organs such as the brain.

How Can I Safeguard My Smile and Brain?

The connection between the mouth and brain is intricate, but it’s still possible to safeguard yourself through sensible practices—and this starts in front of your bathroom mirror! If you aren’t brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash daily, you’re inviting oral bacteria into your mouth and encouraging them to wreak havoc, perhaps even to the point of triggering brain abscesses later on.

Regular dental checkups and prompt diagnosis/treatment of oral infections can also reduce the risk of such infections spreading to the brain and other internal organs. Your dentist is a valuable ally in the ongoing fight against tooth decay, gum disease, and other problems that threaten your smile, and by proxy, your general wellness.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that other smart habits and practices that boost your oral health can provide you with another added layer of protection. Eating a well-balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, refraining from smoking or drinking in excess, and other rational choices are all proven to help.

About the Author

Dr. David M. Weinman received his DMD from the University of Connecticut’s School of Dental Medicine and has proudly served patients and families in Westfield for several years. His practice offers a wide range of preventive, cosmetic, and restorative treatment options that are certain to help you achieve excellent oral health. If you have any questions about the blog or you’d like to schedule a visit for you or a loved one, feel free to contact his practice online or over the phone for additional information or assistance. Telephone: (908) 654-7200.

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