Respiratory Disease & Oral Health
How good dental habits help prevent pneumonia and other breathing problems
Did you know chronic lower respiratory disease is the third-leading cause of death in the United States?1 Strong evidence points to poor oral care as a contributing factor.
Making the connection
The link between poor oral hygiene, gum disease and diabetes is well known. New research suggests bacteria from gum disease travel through airways and into the lungs. And this may lead to potentially life-threatening respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia.2
Who’s most at risk?
If you have an existing respiratory condition, your lungs already have a hard time fighting off incoming bacteria. Poor oral health may worsen your condition if you’re in the following high-risk groups:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) sufferers
- Cancer patients
- HIV carriers
Tell your dentist about current respiratory issues
If you’re already suffering from respiratory problems, it’s important to discuss them with your dentist immediately. He or she can create a safe, effective treatment plan to avoid aggravating your condition.
Excellent dental habits for good respiratory health
A great way to protect your respiratory system is to practice good oral hygiene. It reduces the chance that bacteria and plaque in your mouth will inflame your airways and prevents other breathing problems.
- Brush your teeth twice a day, limit snacking, drink water throughout the day and use a soft-bristled brush.
- Floss to remove dental plaque from places that your toothbrush can’t reach. Food debris left between your teeth can cause bad breath and lead to gum disease.
- Avoid sweets and other empty-calorie snacks that cause tooth decay. Bacteria and sugar produce acids that attack the teeth.
1. National Vital Statistics Reports, Deaths: Leading Causes for 2008, 06/12)
2. American Academy of Periodontology, 2008