Focus on periodontal disease and development of endocarditis

J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2018 Jan-Feb;32(2 Suppl. 1):143-147.


Infective endocarditis is a devastating disease with high morbidity and mortality. The link to oral bacteria has been known for many decades and has caused ongoing concern for dentists, patients and cardiologists. The microbiota of the mouth is extremely diverse and more than 700 bacterial species have been detected. Half of them are uncultivable so far. Oral microbiota is not uniform, specific sites exist in the mouth such as tongue, palate, cheek, teeth and periodontal pockets that have their own microbiota. Factors involved in the development of a bacterial endocarditis are difficult to define but a vulnerable surface (i.e. a damaged endocardium) and a high bacterial load in the blood seems to be decisive. The cause of microorganisms, in 90% of cases, are staphylococcus, streptococcus and enterococcus. Oral streptococci belong to viridans group (streptococcus mutans and streptococcus sanguis). As they are part of dental plaque, they could enter the bloodstream causing bacteraemia through daily habits like chewing or tooth brushing. Effective treatment of periodontal infections is important to reduce local inflammation and bacteraemia. In addition, poor periodontal health appears to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, and preterm and low birth weight.

Conclusions: Long-standing oral disease prevention protocols reduce the risk of developing periodontal disease. Data suggests that methods used to prevent cases of IE that originate from oral bacteria should focus on improving oral hygiene and reducing or eliminating gingivitis, which should reduce the incidence of bacteraemia after tooth-brushing and the need to extract teeth owing to periodontal disease and caries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dental Plaque / complications
  • Dental Plaque / microbiology
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial / etiology*
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Periodontal Diseases / complications*
  • Periodontal Diseases / microbiology