Periodontal Disease and Respiratory Disease

Periodontal disease (also called periodontitis and gum disease) has been linked to respiratory disease through recent research studies.  Researchers have concluded that periodontal disease can worsen conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and may actually play a causal role in the contraction of pneumonia, bronchitis, and emphysema.

Periodontal disease – is a progressive condition which generally begins with a bacterial infection.  The bacteria found in plaque begin to colonize in gingival tissue, causing an inflammatory response in which the body destroys both gum and bone tissue.  The sufferer may notice the teeth “lengthening” as the gums recede while the disease progresses.  If left untreated, erosion of the bone tissue brings about a less stable base for the teeth, meaning loose, shifting or complete tooth loss.

There are a number of different respiratory diseases linked to periodontal disease.  Pneumonia, COPD, and bronchitis are among the most common.  Generally, bacterial respiratory infections occur due to the inhalation of fine droplets from the mouth into the lungs. COPD is a leading cause of death and should be taken very seriously.

Reasons for the Connection – The fact that respiratory disease and periodontal disease are linked may seem far-fetched, but there is plenty of evidence to support it. Here are some of the reasons for the link between periodontal disease and respiratory disease:

  • Bacterial spread– The specific type of oral bacterium that causes periodontal disease can easily be drawn into the lower respiratory tract.  Once the bacteria colonize in the lungs, it can cause pneumonia and exacerbate serious conditions such as COPD.
  • Low immunity– It has been well-documented that most people who experience chronic or persistent respiratory problems suffer from low immunity.  This low immunity allows oral bacteria to embed itself above and below the gum line without being challenged by the body’s immune system.  Not only does this accelerate the progression of periodontal disease, but it also puts the sufferer at an increased risk of developing emphysema, pneumonia, and COPD.

Modifiable factors – Smoking is thought to be the leading cause of COPD and other chronic respiratory conditions.  Tobacco use also damages the gingiva and compromises the good health of the oral cavity in its entirety.  Tobacco use slows the healing process, causes gum pockets to grow deeper and also accelerates.

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  • Nina JasonNina Jason

    We have been going to Periodontal Associates for 27+ years. We see Dr. Heller and he is great. I have had bone replacement surgery and continue to see the practice for check ups every six months. Great caring group of staff, and hygienists as well. Wouldn't go anywhere else.

  • Daniel J KlaimanDaniel J Klaiman

    Dr. Eric Beckman and the entire staff of Periodontal Associates provide excellent and compassionate care for all of your Periodontal and Implant needs. I highly recommend them.

  • Floyd VissatFloyd Vissat

    Had 2 molars extracted within 2 years. No discomfort during and after the procedure. Healing went well.
    Friendly staff

  • Zachary SpeerZachary Speer

    I had a great experience for my periodontal surgery and recovery wasn’t as bad as I thought. The team at periodontal associates were very caring and answered any questions during my recovery process.

  • Bill MarcumBill Marcum

    Dr. Beckman is outstanding -- highly skilled, great to work with.

  • Bridget B.Bridget B.

    Wow, from the moment I walked in I felt welcome. Super nice people and caring. I am a chicken and do not like dentist anything. Doctor Heller explained...

  • Melissa H.Melissa H.

    Let's be honest here - there is nothing fun about having gum surgery. However, the staff and Dr. Heller were as good as it gets with regard to my treatment....

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