In our mouths, bacteria that can lead to fatal brain abscesses

Poor oral hygiene is already associated with many ailments. A recent study now links it to brain abscesses.

Gum problems and Alzheimer’s, imbalance of bacteria in the oral cavity and hypertension or even stroke… Oral hygiene is important, and not just for smiling, we’ve known that for a long time.

Last week the review Journal for Dentistry relayed the conclusions of a study according to which bacteria known to cause oral infections probably also promote the occurrence of life-threatening brain abscesses.

Rare boils, but…

This type of abscess is admittedly quite rare, but it is potentially very dangerous. English scientists analyzed the records of 87 patients hospitalized for brain abscesses, using microbiological data obtained from abscess swabs and other adjacent ones.

The results showed that the 52 patients in whom no cause for the abscess was found were three times more likely to harbor oral bacteria responsible for oral infections.

The presence of streptococci

In these patients too, there was a significantly greater number of Streptococcus anginosus, a bacterium that can cause pharyngitis, bacteremia, and more seriously infections of internal organs such as the brain, lungs, and liver. And this bacteria is often found in dental abscesses.

Based on their results, the researchers believe that the mouth can be considered the origin of an infection in the case of a brain abscess, the cause of which is not formally recognized.

Improve oral hygiene

Dr. Holly Roy, Clinical Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Plymouth and lead author of this study, summarizes the significance of this finding:

While many potential causes of brain abscesses are recognized, the origin of the infection often remains clinically unidentified. However, it was still surprisingly common to find bacteria present orally in brain abscesses of unexplained origin. This study (…) also highlights the importance of improving dental care and oral hygiene more generally.

Parallel clinical trials are being conducted with the aim of analyzing the relationship between gum health and Alzheimer’s disease.

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