Periodontal Disease and Respiratory Disease

Link Found between Periodontal Disease and Respiratory Disease

Research shows that a link exists between periodontal disease and respiratory disease. Periodontal disease is an advanced form of gum disease in which the gums below the gum line are inflamed.  This impacts not only the deep tissues in the mouth but also the bone that supports the teeth. People who have periodontal disease must practice proper oral care at home in addition to visiting the dentist for regular cleanings throughout the year.

Periodontal disease occurs when bacteria attach to and overgrow on gums and teeth. When a person inhales small droplets from the throat and mouth into the lungs, the germs in these droplets can multiply in the lungs. This causes the person to have difficulty with breathing.

Specific lung issues that are linked to periodontal disease include pneumonia, or lung inflammation caused by oral bacteria that reach the lungs. Periodontal disease also has been connected to lung problems such as emphysema and bronchitis. A major respiratory issue that has a connection to periodontal disease is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), where a person’s airways are blocked. This mostly occurs when someone has been smoking, but the condition can worsen if the person also has periodontal disease.

Researchers say that periodontal disease can exacerbate existing lung conditions as well. Gum disease can even cause the lining of the lungs to become inflamed, which prevents air from flowing freely through the lungs and thus stifles breathing.

When a person has respiratory issues, his/her immune system is weakened, and this permits the overgrowth of oral bacteria that causes periodontal disease. It therefore is evident that failure to treat respiratory problems can worsen periodontal disease, just as failure to treat periodontal disease can cause or worsen lung problems. Your doctor and dentist can work together to treat periodontal disease and respiratory problems to prevent them both from becoming unmanageable.