Brushing teeth and flossing regularly could help prevent meningitis.
That’s according to a recent study that identifies a link between a common type of mouth bacteria and the disease.
Researchers in Zurich found the newly identified bacterium Streptococcus tigurinus in the blood of patients with meningitis.
They also found it 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.
The study was published in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.
Meningitis, the swelling of the tissue around the brain, can be caused by bacteria, viruses or other micro-organisms and can be fatal.