This is a series of scientific review articles that I will be sharing with you regarding research findings related to the danger of this relatively unknown bacteria – Helicobacter pylori. This bacterium is known for causing H. pylori infections in the stomach and upper duodenum of the GI system.
Origins of H. pylori
H. pylori originated from the mouth and specifically periodontal disease (gum disease). H. pylori can live underneath the gums tissues in the mouth. Barry Marshall and John Robin Warren first identified H. pylori in 1982 and went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology back in 2005.
Over 50% of people have H. pylori in their stomach and duodenum. The bacterium embeds and burrows into the lining of the stomach. H. pylori has been shown to cause gastritis, pain and stomach cancer.
What are the signs and symptoms of H. pylori infection?
- Difficulty swallowing
- Frequent burping
- Stomach pain
- Bloated feeling
- Weight loss
- Bloody / black stools
- Bloody / black vomit
It is highly recommended that if you have stomach pain, that you have your physician conduct a breath test. Within 20 minutes you can find out if you have the H. pylori infection.
Treatment for H. pylori infection
Treatment includes an antibiotic regimen to kill off the harmful bacteria. A breath test can be repeated in one month to determine the effectiveness of treatment with antibiotics.
Dental implications of H. pylori
- Painful apthous ulcers in the mouth
- Periodontal disease
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) may reintroduce H. pylori to the mouth
- Untreated H. pylori infections may lead to stomach cancer
- Endotoxins from bacteria released underneath the gum tissues (periodontal pockets) can lead to other systemic diseases such as heart attack, stroke, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer
Take home message
See your hygienist / dentist to have your teeth cleaning, mouth evaluated and treatment for periodontal disease as necessary – all to prevent the spread of H. pylori from the mouth to the stomach. Also, don’t skip hygiene visits with your dental office, this may cause undue harm to your mouth, body and life. Hope this research helps and let us know if you have any questions.
Dr. Joe Kravitz, DDS, MS
Prosthodontist, Author & Speaker