Scientists have discovered the mechanism by which common cavity causing bacteria in the mouth called Streptococcus mutans can invade heart valve tissue. There are multiple strains of these Strep mutans bacteria and only certain strains posses a collagen binding protein called CNM which allows them to invade and damage heart tissue. They are able to reach heart tissue through the blood stream from some dental procedures or gum infections. Currently, there is no widely available test to see which strain a patient has, so it would be wise to treat all patients as if they had the invasive strain.
Some dental patients have to take antibiotics before dental appointments in order to prevent this type of bacterial invasion. Your physician would have informed you of the need for this due due to certain conditions such as mitral valve prolapse or surgical implants. If you needed to take antibiotics, they should be taken about 1 hour before the dental appointment so that it can be in your system before the dental procedure. Antibiotics should then be taken for any dental procedure that could cause oral bacteria to enter the blood stream. Some examples of these dental procedures include dental cleanings, dental implants, crowns, and fillings.
It is also entirely possible that if these bacteria are present they can enter your blood stream spontaneously from gum infections such as gingivitis or periodontitis. These conditions cause inflammation which causes the blood vessels to become leaky thereby making it easier for things to pass through such as bacteria. This is why it is so important to have excellent home oral hygiene and see your dentist regularly to detect and treat any such gum infections early. When the gums are healthy and no inflammation is present, it is much more difficult for Strep mutants or any other pathogenic bacteria to enter the dental patients blood stream.
As you can see, regular dental appointments are important for much more than just oral health. There is a connection to overall health that is important too. If you are in need of a dentist in Victoria, please contact us at 361-573-7722.