Periodontitis or gum disease had been linked very strongly in recent research to respiratory disease. It just makes sense if you think about it: It’s easy to inhale bacteria that’s in your mouth. Once it gets in your lungs, you can imagine what kind of harm it can do.
Research has shown that having periodontal disease can worsen conditions related to the lungs like COPD and cause diseases such as emphysema, bronchitis and pneumonia – all things you’d be better off to avoid.
How It All Gets Started
Gum disease is a progressive condition, meaning it gets worse and worse once started if you don’t do something to stop it. It all starts with a simple bacterial infection. The sticky plaque on and around your teeth harbors bacteria that can eventually infect your tissue. Over time, all that bacterial infection in your mouth leads to an inflammatory response that can cause your body to destroy its own gums and the bone underneath.
You may first notice your teeth appearing longer. They aren’t growing, however. The gums and bone are receding away, just making your teeth appear longer. Eventually, so much bone and tissue can erode away that the there’s nothing for teeth to hang onto, and the teeth can become loose and fall out or need to be removed.
Gum disease alone is bad enough, but when there’s bacteria in the small water droplets that you inhale every day, you can get or worsen a variety of lung diseases, further compromising your overall health.
Looking More At The Connection
You may not be convinced of the strong link between gum disease and respiratory disease, but there’s a lot of research on this topic. Some of the established reasons for the connection include these:
Spreading of bacteria. As mentioned above, the type of bacteria that causes gum disease can very easily be sucked into your lungs from your mouth. As this bacteria establish colonies, it can cause pneumonia, worsen COPD and more.
Reduced immunity. When you have a persistent or chronic respiratory issue, you often have a compromised immune system. The two conditions go hand in hand. When this happens, bacteria from the mouth are more likely to embed themselves below the gum line since there’s less of an immune system to challenge them. This means a greater risk for gum disease and more bacteria to be drawn down into your lungs to cause additional problems.
Greater inflammation. When gum disease causes irritation of your oral tissue, you have increased inflammation. And research has shown many kinds of overall health issues are related to inflammation, including a link between irritation related to oral bacteria and an inflammation of the lung linings that can limit how much air you take in. In any case, inflammation is something to be avoided.
Factors you can directly change. Smoking is, of course, the leading cause of COPD and many other problems related to the respiratory system. Tobacco can also damage the gums directly and slow the process of healing, leading to increased pocket size and quicker attachment loss. The most significant actions you can take yourself to reduce periodontal disease are to stop smoking and to maintain good oral health.
Learn more about treatments on the page Periodontal Disease And Respiratory Disease. And contact us if you want to take action to limit the negative health impacts of gum disease. We can help you get your problem under control and keep it that way. In some cases, a cure is even possible.
At Brighton Dental, we have gentle solutions to big oral and overall health issues.