Health

Researchers link mouth bacteria to deadly brain abscesses

Researchers in the U.K. found that bacteria in the mouth can make their way to the brain through a person's blood and cause infection.

Man brushing his teeth.
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The inside of a person's mouth can say a lot about their overall health.

Studies have established links between poor oral health and conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and pneumonia.

Now, a new study shows there's a connection to the brain.

Researchers in the U.K. found certain bacteria in the mouth may cause deadly brain abscesses.

They happen when bacteria make their way to the brain through a person's blood and cause infection.

While these types of infections are rare, researchers say the findings highlight the importance of oral health.

"The mouth is often seen as a mirror of the rest of the body," said Dr. Ewen McColl of the University of Plymouth in England.

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McColl notes that many patients are often unaware of the connection.

For instance, McColl said gum disease also has been known to complicate diabetes further.

"If we have patients that are relatively young, 40-50, they've got periodontal disease, we ask that they see a physician to look at whether they've got undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes," McColl said. "We often find a link."

Seeing a dentist regularly is important for a person's overall health.

McColl notes that avoiding the dentist can lead to delays in care for gum disease and other serious illnesses such as oral cancer.

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