Your entire body works on its own to maintain function and a healthy system, so it should come as no surprise that what goes on in your mouth will have a lasting effect on the rest of the body. For example, did you know that periodontal disease can lead to respiratory problems? According to a study published in the Journal of Periodontology, researchers found a strong link between the two, which could possibly be a result of the increased amount of anaerobic bacteria in the mouth.
Researchers studied a pool of 14,000 patients from the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey, all of whom were at least 20 years old and still had at least six natural teeth. Each person was examined for their lung, dental and periodontal health, and they were questioned regarding their respiratory health. When comparing data, the researchers found a direct link between people who had poor oral health as well as lowered respiratory health. An individual with poor oral health was characterized as someone who had bleeding gums, gingival recession and periodontal attachment level. Appropriate adjustments were made based on age, income, race and frequency of dental visits.
“It’s possible that people with periodontal disease and chronic lung disease might find their lung disease perhaps worse than if they did not have periodontal disease,” study author Frank Scannapieco, an associate professor of oral biology at the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, said. “It could be that bacteria in the mouth somehow travel into the lower airway and contribute to the inflammatory process that is involved into the progression of chronic lung disease. It’s also possible that inflammatory mediators in the saliva may somehow play a role in the process.”
Another study in the journal suggested that periodontal disease can increase the risk of respiratory infections like pneumonia or acute bronchitis. The study included a group of 20 individuals who were between the ages of 20 and 60 with at least 20 of their own teeth. Of those participants, 50 percent of them were hospitalized for a respiratory disease, while the other half had no history of issues with their lungs. All of the individuals were also questioned about their periodontal health. Researchers found that the group with respiratory issues was more prone to gum disease.
What you can do
Luckily, periodontal disease is highly preventable. People who are beginning to see signs of gum disease can take several measures to improve their condition. For starters, improving your diet can make a huge impact on the health of your teeth and gums. Fibrous fruits and vegetables clean the teeth and they can also strengthen the gums. Some people may avoid apples or carrots in fear that they will damage sensitive gums, but rest assured that these crunchy foods do more good than bad.
Oral bacteria are the main culprit of gum disease, so brushing, flossing and rinsing regularly is key to maintaining a mouth in peak condition. If you are already seeing the first symptoms, consider TheraBreath’s PerioTherapy Oral Rinse or Toothpaste. These products are specifically designed to combat the bacteria that cause gum disease and bad breath.
More research is still required to determine if in fact the anaerobic bacteria accumulation in the mouth is what creates issues in the respiratory system. However, it’s still a good idea to make sure that you are following a strict regimen to keep a healthy mouth. Previous research has also found a connection between gum disease and heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Other conclusions have been made stating that bacteria have the biggest influence on these issues.