What is Bacteremia and How Can It Affect Me?

What is Bacteremia and How Can It Affect Me?

Nobody is quite sure how many species of bacteria live in the mouth, but estimates range from between nearly four hundred to six hundred and fifty different species. Some are benign, while others are not so friendly. Bacteremia is more often called blood poisoning but this does not mean there is poison in your blood. Instead it refers to the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream.


If you have a dental procedure or have gum disease, then the bacteria in your mouth can easily enter your bloodstream. Once in your bloodstream, these bacteria can travel just about anywhere in your body. Most healthy people will be able to cope with this, and the condition can create few or no symptoms, and will resolve itself without treatment. However bacteremia can be a serious issue for anyone with a compromised immune system or who has any other underlying health conditions.

Symptoms of bacteremia include:

  • Suddenly developing a high fever
  • Feeling as if you have chills
  • Increased heart rate
  • Feeling nauseous, actually being sick or having abdominal pains

It is a serious condition that can require hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics. If not treated promptly Bacteremia can develop into sepsis, and can even become life-threatening.


All this might sound very worrying, but the risks for healthy people are negligible, and you can rest assured that Midtown Dentistry will take every precaution to ensure patients are safe during treatment. Part of this involves taking down detailed information on patient’s general health, including any medical conditions and prescription medications being used. Wherever necessary you will be supplied with antibiotics if required.


Certain people are more at risk, including anyone who has underlying structural heart defects. In this case Bacteremia could result in the development of bacterial endocarditis, a life-threatening condition affecting the heart valves. Diabetics are potentially more at risk as they are more likely to develop gum disease, and are less able to fight bacterial infections. Anyone whose immune is suppressed for any reason is more at risk, as are alcoholics and people who are malnourished, and anyone who is undergoing chemotherapy or other treatment for cancer.

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