Health Medical

Oral bacteria can cause brain abscesses, says new research

oral hygiene

HQ Team

December 8, 2022:  Oral diseases are a major health risk and can even be fatal in some cases. It is estimated that oral diseases affect nearly 3.5 billion people worldwide. Bad dental hygiene is linked to heart problems, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and respiratory diseases. A new study now finds a link between streptococcus anginosus, a bacteria found in oral abscesses, and the risk of brain abscesses.

Now, researchers have discovered a link between Streptococcus anginosus, a bacteria found in oral abscesses, and an increased risk of brain abscesses.

The study, undertaken by the University of Plymouth and published in the Journal of Dentistry, investigated brain abscesses and their association with bacteria that occur in the oral cavity. This bacteria is not commonly found, but the associated fatality rate is high.

For the study, the researchers examined the records of 87 patients with brain abscesses and examined the abscess samples and peripheral cultures.

They looked for oral bacteria in patients’ brain abscesses. The cause of the abscess had been determined in only 37 of the 87 patient data examined.

The researchers found that the remaining 52 patients, where no cause had been found, were three times more likely to have oral bacteria present in their samples.

Those patients also carried significantly higher counts of Streptococcus anginosus, a bacteria that can lead to pharyngitis, bacteremia, and infections in the brain, lungs, and liver. This bacteria is often found in dental abscesses.

The researchers explaining their findings wrote that the oral cavity could be considered a source of infection in cases of brain abscess where no clear cause was identified.

Dr Holly Roy, an NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Neurosurgery at the University of Plymouth and the study’s lead author, said: “While many potential causes of brain abscesses are recognised, the origin of infection often remains clinically unidentified. However, it was still surprising to frequently find orally occurring bacteria in brain abscesses of unexplained origin.

“It highlights the importance of using more sensitive techniques to assess the oral cavity as a potential bacterial source in brain abscess patients. It also highlights the importance of improving dental care and oral hygiene more generally.”

The University of Plymouth and University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust led the research. The study is part of an ongoing to explore the links between the oral microbiome and a range of cardiovascular and neurological conditions.

Other clinical trials are underway investigating the links between gum health and Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular risk.

The original paper can be found in the Journal of Dentistry under “Oral microbes and the formation of cerebral abscesses: A single-centre retrospective study”.

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