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Bleeding gums - a condition caused by poor dental hygiene - can pave the way for heart disease, researchers claim.
The link between bad oral health and heart problems was explored during the autumn meeting of the Society for General Microbiology, with various speakers emphasizing the urgency of preventive care.
"It doesn't matter how fit, slim or healthy you are - you're adding to your chances of getting heart disease by having bad teeth," warned Professor Howard Jenkinson of the University of Bristol.
Meanwhile, Dr Steve Kerrigan of the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin explained the process by which bacteria enters the bloodstream through bleeding gums.
These bacteria then encounter platelets, which are small fragments that clot blood. If this clotting takes place inside the blood vessel, it may become blocked and inhibit blood flow to the heart.
The human mouth contains as many as 700 different types of bacteria, scientists say.
Researchers in New Zealand have recently been investigating the way that certain proteins found in the mouths of gum disease patients may be connected to arterial hardening.
© 2008 Brafton Inc.
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