Scientists say they have established one reason why gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease. The link between gum and heart problems has long been recognised but it is unclear if poor oral health is simply a marker of a person's general wellbeing. UK and Irish experts now say bacteria enter the bloodstream via sore gums and deposit a clot-forming protein.
The findings are being presented at a meeting of the Society for General Microbiology.
Earlier this year a Scottish study of more than 11,000 people found people who did not brush their teeth twice a day were at increased risk of heart disease. It backed up previous findings suggesting a link, but researchers stressed the nature of the relationship still needed further analysis.
Scientists from the University of Bristol working with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland now suggest it is the Streptococcus bacteria - responsible for causing tooth plaque and gum disease - which may be to blame.