Oral Infections and Bacterial Endocarditis

Bacterial endocarditis, also called infective endocarditis, is an inflammation of the endocardium, the thin membrane that lines the inner surface of the heart's cavities and heart valves.

In 90% of cases, endocarditis is caused by bacteria such as streptococci, especially S. viridans , staphylococci, enterococci and Gram bacilli. -negatives; and in 10% of cases it is caused by fungi.

When there is an infection somewhere in the body, the germs that enter the bloodstream can reach the heart and lodge in the valves or in another sector of the endocardium, where they multiply, they accumulate, and they adhere to each other, forming growths called vegetations. These vegetations can cause permanent damage to the valves and lead to heart failure. They can also detach and travel to distant parts of the body, including the lungs, brain, kidneys and spleen, and cause pulmonary embolisms, abscesses and strokes, which can be deadly. In most cases, bacteria reach the heart as a result of the manipulation of body surfaces in dental procedures, otorhinolaryngological, gastrointestinal, urological, bronchoscopies, etc.

The symptoms of endocarditis vary depending on the bacteria that causes it, the number of bacteria, and the condition of the patient. The most frequent symptoms are fever, chills, fatigue, weakness, malaise, loss of appetite, weight loss, muscle and joint pain, swelling in the feet, legs and abdomen, and red spots on the skin.

Endocarditis can affect both children and adults. In healthy people who have normal valves, bacteria usually do not cause any damage and are destroyed by the body's defenses. In contrast, individuals with a history of endocarditis, rheumatic fever, valve lesions, valvular prostheses, or a congenital defect in the heart are more vulnerable to developing the disease.

It is very important that patients at high risk of presenting endocarditis inform the dentist or doctor about their state of health before being subjected to any dental procedure, especially interventions in which there is bleeding, such as dental extractions, surgeries, implants, cleaning of gums, etc., in order to prescribe prophylactic antibiotics before said procedure. Also, these people should be very careful about their oral hygiene, keep their teeth and gums healthy, free of infections, and visit the dentist frequently.