Tooth decay and gum disease has now been linked to heart attacks.
The common strain of bacteria “Streptococcus” in dental plaque causes blood clots, which can induce a heart attack when they are released into the blood stream.
Normally, Streptococcus bacteria confines its mischief to the mouth, but sometimes, particularly after a dental procedure or even after a vigorous bout of flossing, the bacteria enter the blood stream. There the immune system usually destroys them but occasionally they can travel to the heart and colonise its tissue, especially the heart valves.
The bacteria can cause endocarditis – inflammation of the heart valves – which can be deadly.