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Periodontal Disease and Respiratory Disease

Relationship between periodontal disease and respiratory disease

The latest dental research has shown that periodontal disease can exacerbate respiratory conditions like obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and may also cause other respiratory ailments like pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema.

Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that typically starts with gingivitis, a non-destructive bacterial infection and a mild form of periodontal disease. Gingivitis is caused when toxins from bacteria found in plaque irritate and inflame the gum tissue surrounding teeth. If the bacterial infection goes untreated and is allowed to colonize, the infection may spread into deep pockets beneath the gums and teeth. In response to this infection, the body progressively destroys gum and bone tissue surrounding the teeth, which loosens the tooth’s foundation and can lead to loose, shifting or missing teeth.

Several common respiratory diseases are linked to periodontal disease, including COPD, pneumonia and bronchitis. Bacterial respiratory infections tend to occur from inhalation of the bacteria from the mouth into the lungs.

How are Periodontal Disease and Respiratory Ailments Connected?

Evidence shows that there may be a link between periodontal disease and respiratory disease. Here are a few of the underlying connections that link the diseases:

Oral Bacteria causes Periodontal Disease

The oral bacteria that cause periodontal disease can be transferred easily to the lower respiratory tract through regular breathing. Once the bacteria settles into the lungs and begins to colonize, the infected individual may contract pneumonia, which can worsen serious respiratory conditions like COPD.

Low Immunity can cause Periodontal Disease

People who suffer from chronic or persistent respiratory problems often have low immunity. In bodies where immunity is diminished, bacteria that is embedded beneath the gum line is allowed to thrive because it is permitted to colonize uncontested by the immune system. This can speed up the development of periodontal disease, as well as increase one’s risk of contracting emphysema, pneumonia or COPD.

Tobacco Use can cause Periodontal Disease

Smoking, which is thought to be a leading cause of COPD and other respiratory conditions, can also seriously damage gums and worsen the health of the oral cavity as a whole. Smokers and tobacco users tend to experience a drastically slower healing time, and, at the same time, experience accelerated separation of the gums, bone and teeth. While smoking isn’t the only cause of periodontal disease, it is a serious cofactor that should be thwarted at all costs.

Inflammation due to Periodontal Disease

Inflammation and irritation caused by periodontal disease may also contribute to inflammation in the lung lining, which restricts the amount of air that can be freely transmitted to and from the lungs.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Periodontal Disease

When respiratory disease and periodontal disease collide, it is crucial for your dentist and physician to collaborate in their diagnoses and treatment methods in order to effectively control both diseases. Depending on the progression of the periodontal disease in the gums, teeth and jawbone, both surgical and non-surgical remedies may be employed.

A periodontist will assess the damage to one’s teeth, gums and bone in order to properly treat the bacterial infection and gum disease. Scaling and root planing are common non-surgical treatments that may be performed by your dentist in order to clean the deep pockets of bacteria and debris and smooth the tooth root in order to cleanse the pocket of any remaining bacteria. Antibiotics may also be prescribed or injected directly into the pockets to promote healthy healing and lower the chances of the infection resurfacing.

No matter the treatment method used, controlling periodontal disease is essential to reducing unpleasant respiratory infections associated with COPD and other ailments.

If you have questions about the impact periodontal disease has on respiratory diseases, contact your periodontist at De Anza Dentistry today!