In a recent study, researchers investigated the role of oral bacteria in the development of brain abscesses. They found that samples of brain abscesses where no primary source of infection was identified contained a high number of oral bacteria and reasoned that bacteria that cause oral infections could also contribute to patients developing brain abscesses. The researchers concluded that maintaining good oral health may help prevent the development of brain abscesses in some individuals.
The researchers examined the records of 87 patients with brain abscesses admitted to a single UK neurosurgical unit over 16 years. They used microbiological data obtained from abscess sampling and peripheral cultures to categorise the species of bacteria where no primary source of infection was identified (in 52 of the patients) or where an infective source for their brain abscesses was identified (in 35 of the patients). The microbiological data were then screened to identify common oral bacteria in each group.
The findings showed that the 52 patients in the first group were about three times as likely to have oral bacteria present in their samples. They had a significantly higher number of Streptococcus anginosus.
In light of the findings, the authors argued that the oral cavity might be a source of infection in patients with brain abscesses of unknown origin and argued that it should be of utmost importance to carefully review the oral health of brain abscess patients.
In order to help establish the causal link between oral health and brain abscesses and to develop prevention strategies, the researchers believe that future studies should include oral screening and microbiome analysis.