Most of us are familiar with the advice to prevent a stroke: Exercise, eat plenty of vegetables, and lower stress. But did you know flossing and brushing daily should be added to that list?

A recent study found a link between stroke and oral bacteria from poor gum health. An analysis of blood clots that caused ischemic strokes in 75 patients found almost 80 percent of them had DNA from oral bacteria in the blood clots. These DNA were not found in other blood samples from the same patient.

This study adds weight to the research that shows a link between gum disease and cardiovascular and neurological health.

Previous research from the same team has also found oral bacteria in the blood clots that cause heart attacks and brain aneurysms, and in the leg veins in cases of thromboses. They also discovered that oral bacteria is connected to heart infection.

Likewise, other research shows a link between gum disease and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Oral bacteria produce toxins in the brain that contribute to the misfolding of proteins in the brain, a key feature of Alzheimer’s.

An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot starves a part of the brain of blood and oxygen, causing tissue to die. It commonly arises from atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of the arteries.

Oral bacteria has been shown to activate platelets and accelerate atherosclerosis and blood clotting.

Need motivation to floss? Try this

Having trouble staying motivated to floss daily?

Try this motivational tip: Smell your floss after you use it. If it has a foul, rotting odor that’s a sign oral bacteria are taking over your teeth and gums and you’re at higher risk for gum infection and dental issues. It also means your breath probably stinks! Smell check as you floss throughout your mouth to pinpoint problem areas.

You may also want to consider using a water flossing device to promote healthy gums. However, these devices are not a substitute for flossing and should only be used as an adjunct.

Functional medicine can help prevent strokes

It’s estimated about  90 percent of strokes are caused by unhealth diet and lifestyle habits. Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of disability.

Studies have found the following factors are the most common causes of strokes:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excess alcohol
  • Stress and depression
  • Diabetes
  • Excess abdominal fat
  • Heart disorders

As research continues, poor oral hygiene may get added to this list.

Functional medicine strategies to prevent stroke

The strategies you use to prevent stroke will also improve your overall health and well being.

Put your attention on whole foods, lots of vegetables, and healthy fats. Avoid sodas, desserts, sweet coffee drinks, and processed foods.

Even out your blood sugar

High blood sugar from too much sugar and processed carbohydrates chronically inflames the body, damaging the arterial walls and causing of arterial plaques and blood clots. High blood sugar and type 2 diabetes increase your risk of stroke by two to four times.

Daily exercise prevents strokes and makes you feel great

Exercise is unparalleled when it comes to preventing stroke and promoting brain health. Regular exercise strengthens blood vessels, oxygenates the brain, and revs up your metabolism. Post-stroke exercise reduces the severity of the damage and improves recovery.

Ask my office how we can help you lower your risk of stroke and support your brain health.