There are many reasons why those of us who live in the Coos Bay community might need to see a family dentist near the Oregon Coast. Toothaches, problems eating, sensitivity to hot or cold drinks and jaw discomfort are all reasons why patients come to see Dr. Lemire. However, the result of a new study suggests that another common condition may actually be treatable at the dentist’s office – migraines.
Frequent headaches and migraines in particular are a widespread problem that impact the lives of billions of people worldwide. New research has found that individuals suffering from migraines have significantly more microbes in their mouth when compared to those who don’t suffer from the condition. These microbes have the ability to modify nitrates. The results of this study could suggest that better oral health could help to lower an individual’s risk and severity of migraines.
Oral Bacteria & Migraines
As part of the study, researchers sequenced the bacteria from 172 saliva samples and over 1,900 fecal samples and discovered that the bacterial species were found in different numbers when comparing those who suffer from migraines with the samples of those who do not. Additional analysis of the oral samples found that genes that encode nitrate, nitrite and nitric oxide-related enzymes were significantly more common in migraine patients.
Compounds that contain nitrates have been previously linked in research as common headache triggers. They are commonly found in foods such as leafy green vegetables and processed meats and in certain types of medications. Oral bacteria can reduce nitrates to nitrites, and when carried through the circulatory system, these nitrites can then be converted into nitric oxide under specific conditions.
While the results of this study indicate the potential connection between bacteria that reduces nitrates in the mouth and migraines, further study is needed to verify whether these bacteria are the result of or cause of migraines, or are indirectly linked in some other unknown way.
Roughly 38 million people in the U.S. and an estimated 1 billion worldwide suffer from migraines, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. These numbers rank migraines as the third most prevalent disease in the world. However, over half of all migraine sufferers never receive a diagnosis, as the vast majority never actually seek out medical care.
The Mouth/Body Connection
As we have covered previously in our blog, a growing amount of research has found compelling links between our oral and overall health. In recent years, studies have found that individuals who suffer from dental diseases such as tooth decay and gum disease have a significantly higher risk of developing a range of chronic health conditions that include cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, arthritis and cancer.
This latest study helps to underscore that the more we learn about the bacteria in our mouths, the more we begin to fully understand just how big an impact our oral health can have on our long-term health.
Due to the impact our oral health can have on our bodies, it is vital that we practice quality prevention to ensure future health. By far, the best practices for protecting your current and long-term oral health are: brushing twice a day, flossing daily and scheduling regular dental exams and cleanings with your family dentist near the Oregon Coast.