As dental science continues to evolve, we are beginning to see more clearly how dental problems can have negative effects on seemingly unrelated areas of the body. Leading dentists see dental decay as a problem that isn’t isolated to the mouth alone.
The same principle also applies to various dental treatments. Amalgam (silver) fillings, for example, are becoming more and more rare in the field of dentistry because they contain high amounts of mercury – a toxic heavy metal that can have poisonous effects on the body over time.
So, if a toxic substance like mercury in your teeth can have far-reaching negative side effects – headaches, fatigue, and respiratory problems, to name a few – then what kind of remote problems can bacteria from a dental infection cause?
The Possible Link Between Dental Decay & Hemorrhagic Stroke
Like almost all dental problems, dental decay is the result of plaque – the sticky substance that builds up on your teeth when you go without brushing and flossing.
Plaque results from a combination of bacteria that naturally lives in your mouth and carbohydrates from the food that you eat. Plaque is acidic and infectious.
Dental decay progresses along the following steps:
- Plaque begins eating away at the enamel – the protective outer layer of the tooth. Enamel can be naturally replaced by the body (with improved dental hygiene and diet), however, if left to fester, plaque will eventually move to the next phase.
- Plaque begins eating away at the enamel – the second, bony layer of the tooth. Once a hole is worn out in the enamel, you officially have a cavity. There are no natural means to restore your enamel, and a dental filling will have to be put in place. If not, the process will continue.
- Plaque begins to work its way into the tooth pulp – the soft, fleshy layer of the tooth under the dentin. Tooth pulp is comprised of a series of blood vessels and the tooth nerve. When plaque infects the pulp, it begins to swell, putting pressure on the tooth nerve and blood vessels. This cuts off blood supply to the nerve and it eventually begins to die. At this stage, a root canal will be required.
- Left untreated, an inflamed pocket of pus will manifest, usually at the gum line. This is an abscess. At this stage, a professional dentist will need to drain the abscess and perform a root canal.
Plaque is acidic and filled with bacteria, specifically, the bacteria Streptococcus Mutans. This is the same bacteria found in higher-than-average amounts in patients who have suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, the result of ruptured blood vessels in the brain.
The link here is that this bacteria can have direct access from the mouth to the bloodstream and, eventually, into various blood vessels in the body. Streptococcus Mutans is also associated with cerebral microbleeds.
Research suggests that dental problems aren’t merely local to the mouth; they can have far-reaching effects on the body that can lead to serious medical problems. Beyond all of the pain and discomfort of dental decay, there may be more alarming problems to consider.
No matter what stage of dental decay you may be suffering from, it’s always a wise idea to contact a professional dentist for treatment.