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Senior Health: The Link Between Stroke and Oral Bacteria

By Melissa Hill, 9:00 am on

Oral hygiene is an important part of maintaining overall health and regularly brushing and flossing teeth becomes even more important as seniors age. In addition to preventing gum or tooth decay, new research suggests that oral hygiene may play a role in preventing strokes. Here’s what Oklahoma stroke care providers should know about the findings of this study.

A team of Japanese researchers conducted the study for the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center of Osaka. The researchers observed patients who were admitted into the hospital for strokes. They discovered that 26 percent of those who had a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when the blood vessels of the brain rupture, had a certain type of bacteria in their saliva called Streptococcus mutans. Only six percent of stroke patients without a hemorrhagic stroke tested positive for the S. mutans bacteria. Within the general population, 10 percent of people have these particular oral bacteria.

The researchers theorize that high levels of these bacteria are more common in seniors who had hemorrhagic strokes because the bacteria affect blood vessels. Blood vessels already weaken as people age, which is why hemorrhagic strokes are more common among seniors. It seems that when the S. mutans bacteria are present in the body, it can bind to the weakened blood vessels and cause ruptures to occur. These strokes can seriously impair brain function and eventually lead to dementia.

Oral bacteria are linked with variety of health problems, including heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and tooth decay. Since all of these health conditions are particularly common among the elderly population, it is important to rigorously maintain oral health in order to avoid increasing risks for these issues. Dentists recommend that seniors brush their teeth and dentures at least twice a day, floss once day, clean dentures every day, and visit a dentist’s office at least twice a year.

You can also supplement your loved one’s care by reaching out to Home Care Assistance of Oklahoma. As a leading provider of flexible home care Oklahoma families can trust, we help seniors enhance their daily lives by promoting a balanced and regimented schedule of healthy diet, physical exercise, and personal hygiene. Should your loved one require more extensive care, we provide both live-in and hourly schedules to meet your loved one’s unique needs. Call us today at 405-285-4191 to learn more about our services and schedule a no-obligation consultation.