Strokes are generally considered to be something that older people have. However, the truth is that it can happen at any age. It is a common occurrence, it’s estimated around 400,000 Australians have a stroke every year.
It’s worse in the United States as someone dies from a stroke every four minutes. In fact, it’s this that triggered more research into the cause of strokes and discovered the possible link to oral health.
What Is A Stroke?
A stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is cut off, effectively starving the brain of oxygen and nutrients. The severity of the stroke is dictated by how long the brain is cut off for. The supply can be cut due to a bleed on the brain or thanks to a blood clot in one of the arteries leading to the brain.
Strokes are more common in people over 65 and it’s worth noting that African-Americans have double the risk of stroke compared to Caucasians.
Other people at greater risk of stroke are those with a sedentary lifestyle, those who smoke a lot, are overweight, or have high blood pressure/high cholesterol.
If someone is experiencing a stroke it’s likely that part of their face will droop, their speech will become slurred, and they’ll have arm weakness.
The Connection Between Oral Health
If you ever needed a better reason to visit your Erskineville dentist, then this is it. The most recent studies have shown a link between oral health and overall health. This includes an increased risk of stroke.
The main risk is associated with poor dental hygiene. If you don’t brush your teeth daily and floss, then plaque will build up around your teeth and gums. This results in bacteria being able to attack your gums, causing them to become red, inflamed, and for them to pull away from your teeth.
This increases the risk of cavities and even teeth falling out.
However, it’s inflammation that is the biggest issue if you’re concerned about a stroke. Because poor oral hygiene causes so much bacteria in your mouth, it will move into your bloodstream. Once it is in your bloodstream it is likely to cause inflammation inside blood vessels. This increases the risk of blood clots and the possibility of a stroke.
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It should be noted that research is still at an early stage. It is possible that the build-up of bacteria in your mouth indicates you already have inflammation in your blood. Scientists are looking at which way the inflammation moves.
But, one thing is certain. Regular dental check-ups will help to identify any issues and eliminate them. Alongside this, regular health check-ups with your doctor are a good idea, especially as you age.
Remember, a stroke can be deliberating and completely change the course of your life. But, a few simple changes to your oral health routine and regular visits to your dentist can help you to avoid having a stroke. That makes every visit worthwhile.