How Dental Plaque Can Trigger Blood Clots
You have probably heard your dentist and your parents tell you that not maintaining good dental hygiene can lead to an accumulation of bacteria in your mouth, leading to tooth decay and gum disease. What you may not be aware of is that bacteria in your mouth can also harm other areas of the body as well. There is a common bacteria in your mouth called Streptococcus gordonii, which contribute to the formation of plaque on the teeth. If this bacteria enters the bloodstream through bleeding gums, it can cause serious complications in other parts of the body.
Researchers have found that S. gordonii is able to produce a molecule on its surface that allows it to mimic the protein fibrinogen, a blood-clotting factor. This activates the platelets, causing them to clump inside blood vessels. Platelet clumping can lead to growths on the heart valve or inflammation of the blood vessels. Further study is needed in order to fully understand the relationship between the bacteria and the platelets. But once that relationship is discovered, it could lead to a new, effective treatment for infective endocarditis.
Infective endocarditis is currently treated using surgery or with strong antibiotics, but it is becoming more difficult to treat due to growing antibiotic resistance. Nearly 30% of people who are diagnosed with infective endocarditis end up dying as a result, but with this new discovery, scientists may be able to develop a new compound that would be able to inhibit the growth of the S. gordonii molecule. In the meantime, continue to brush and floss every day and schedule regular appointments with our NoHo dentist.
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