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Is There a Link Between Stroke and Oral Health?

Jun 8

A stroke kills someone in the United States every four minutes! As we learn more about how our oral health influences our overall health from a Dentist in Rockhill, SC, we can't help but wonder if there is a correlation between stroke and dental health.


The link between stroke and oral health is still being studied, but some risk factors have been identified. For example, poor oral hygiene can lead to gum disease, a known risk factor for stroke. Gum disease is caused by bacteria in the mouth that irritate and inflame the gums. This inflammation can cause blood clots to form, leading to a stroke.


Other risk factors for stroke include smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes. All of these conditions can also lead to gum disease.

An Overview of Stroke


To understand the link between stroke and dental health, you must first understand what a stroke is and who is more likely to have one. When a blood artery in the brain bursts or a blood clot blocks oxygen from reaching the brain, a stroke ensues. Physical signs of a stroke include a drooping face, arm weakness, and slurred or impaired speech. While every one of any age can have a stroke, some categories of people are at a higher risk:


-African Americans


-heavy drinkers

-People with diabetes


Dental health is often not considered when thinking about strokes, but there is a link between the two. Poor dental hygiene can lead to gum disease, linked to an increased risk of stroke. Gum disease is caused by bacteria in the mouth entering the bloodstream and traveling to the brain, causing a stroke. In addition, people who have had a stroke are more likely to develop gum disease. Therefore, stroke survivors need to regularly maintain good oral hygiene and see their dentist.


There are several things that you can do to reduce your risk of having a stroke, including:


-Quit smoking

-Limit your alcohol intake

-Eat a healthy diet

-Exercise regularly

-Maintain good oral hygiene


Gum Disease: An Overview


Gum disease affects 64 million adults in the United States or more than half of the adult population. It is an entirely preventable condition caused by bacterial overgrowth in the mouth. Gum disease has various phases and may often be controlled with adequate treatment. However, it is characterized by red, puffy gums pushed away from the tooth and can easily bleed.


Brushing twice a day, flossing and mouth washing daily, chewing sugar-free gum between meals when brushing isn't possible, and visiting your dentist at least twice a year for regular check-ups are the best strategies to prevent gum disease. So, what's the connection between gum disease and stroke?

When gum disease is not treated, the bacteria that cause it can enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body, including the brain. These bacteria can then adhere to blood vessels and cause them to narrow or block, leading to a stroke. Research has shown that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have a stroke as those without gum disease.


If you think you might have gum disease, it's essential to see your dentist right away for an evaluation. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing more serious health complications.


At River District Smiles, we are dedicated to helping our patients maintain good oral health. We offer periodontal therapy to treat gum disease and can help you develop a plan for maintaining good oral health as we advance. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and reduce the chance of having a stroke!