A dirty mouth is a deadly one. And I'm not talking about killer breath -- I'm talking about killer heart attacks.

I've told you for years that oral health affects heart health. Now, one scientist has figured out the "why" behind this cause-and-effect relationship.

It turns out that the same nasty bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gum disease can get into your bloodstream and cause blood clots that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

The culprit is the common Streptococcus bacteria -- the same family responsible for everything from strep throat to the flesh-eating disease -- and the researchers say bleeding gums are like an open door for them.

Think an antibiotic might help? Think again -- because the study presented at the Society for General Microbiology's autumn conference also found that the bacteria actually use those clots as a shield, making them immune to meds.

So naturally, the researchers say they want to use their study as an excuse to develop new meds.

C'mon already -- enough's enough!

Why mess around with drugs when clean teeth and gums will do the trick every time? They can't get in if you don't let them -- and that's entirely up to you.

Just remember to take care of your teeth the right way: Without that toxic waste known as fluoride.

And unless you like spitting money into the sink with each cleaning, you don't need toothpaste -- or, for that matter, a toothbrush. Just mix some 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with baking soda to form a paste, and gently work it into your teeth and gums with your fingertips.

Rinse with the peroxide (just don't swallow). Don't forget to floss, and make regular use of a water irrigator like the Waterpik.

Of course, the best dental habits in the world won't save your teeth -- or your life -- if your diet is filled with sugary junk food.