Strokes result from impaired oxygen delivery to brain cells from the bloodstream. Bloodflow can be compromised from a blockage of an artery, a blood clot, or a cerebral hemorrhage. Common risk factors for strokes are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking. However, recent studies have linked periodontal disease and sleep apnea to stroke.

One study, conducted at the State University of New York at Buffalo, determined bacteria from gum disease can enter the bloodstream, stimulating blood to clot and damage the lining of blood vessels. Researchers have not yet determined which strands of bacteria lead to the increased of risk of stroke.

Another study, conducted at Yale University School of Medicine, determined that people suffering from sleep apnea have increased their risk of stroke, more so than people who obtain a restful night of sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of sleep apnea, occurs when soft tissue in the mouth and throat relax and block airflow.   During restful sleep, the brain regulates bloodflow and oxygen levels. When a person suffers from several episodes of sleep apnea, the brain struggles to keep levels normal, thus increasing the risk of stroke.

Taking proper care of your oral health and getting a solid night of sleep are detrimental in decreasing the risk of stroke. I’m Dr. Corbet Locke, a dentist in Waco, and I treat both periodontal disease and sleep apnea. Since May is National Stroke Awareness Month, this is a great time to schedule an appointment for a thorough cleaning or to discuss treatment options for sleep apnea.  Contact my Waco, TX dentist office at (254)776-4888 to schedule an appointment. I proudly care for residents of Waco, Hewitt, Woodway, and the Central Texas area.