London: Brushing teeth after every meal is known to prevent bad breath, cavities and gum disease. Now, a new study has claimed that the habit could also help stave off meningitis.
This is after Swiss researchers found a link between a common type of mouth bacteria and meningitis, a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, `The Daily Telegraph` reported.
The researchers in Zurich found the newly identified bacterium Streptococcus tigurinus in the blood of patients with meningitis. They also found its presence in those with spondylodiscitis, or inflammation of the spine, and a type of heart disease called endocarditis.
Dr Andrea Zbinden, who led the study, said the bacterium "seems to have a natural potential to cause severe disease".
It could get into the bloodstream through bleeding gums, she added, although she noted its "specific risk" had yet to be determined.
Meningitis, the swelling of the tissue around the brain, can be caused by bacteria, viruses or other micro-organisms.
It can be life-threatening due to the inflammation`s proximity to the brain and spinal cord.
The most common symptoms of meningitis are headache and neck stiffness associated with fever, confusion or altered consciousness, vomiting, and an inability to tolerate light or loud noises.
The findings have been published in the `International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology`.