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periodontal Disease & REspiratory Disease

Periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis or gum disease, has recently been associated with respiratory conditions through research studies. Researchers have concluded that periodontal disease can exacerbate conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and may even contribute to the onset of pneumonia, bronchitis, and emphysema.

 

Periodontal disease typically begins with a bacterial infection, where plaque bacteria colonize gingival tissue, prompting an inflammatory response that leads to the destruction of both gum and bone tissue. As the disease advances, individuals may observe the "lengthening" of teeth due to receding gums. Left untreated, erosion of bone tissue results in a less stable tooth base, leading to loose, shifting, or complete tooth loss.

Various respiratory diseases are linked to periodontal disease, with pneumonia, COPD, and bronchitis being among the most common. Bacterial respiratory infections often occur when fine droplets from the mouth are inhaled into the lungs. COPD, a major cause of death, demands serious attention.

Reasons for the Connection:

  1. Bacterial Spread: The specific oral bacterium causing periodontal disease can easily reach the lower respiratory tract, leading to pneumonia and exacerbating conditions like COPD.

  2. Low Immunity: Chronic respiratory problems often coincide with low immunity, allowing oral bacteria to thrive above and below the gum line. This not only accelerates periodontal disease but also increases the risk of developing emphysema, pneumonia, and COPD.

  3. Modifiable Factors: Smoking, a primary cause of COPD and chronic respiratory conditions, damages the gingiva, hampers oral health, and accelerates attachment loss.

  4. Inflammation: Periodontal disease-induced inflammation and irritation of oral tissue may contribute to inflammation of the lung lining, limiting the free flow of air to and from the lungs.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

When both respiratory and periodontal diseases are diagnosed, collaborative efforts between dentists and doctors are crucial. Non-surgical and surgical options are available based on the specific condition of teeth, gums, and jaw. Dentists assess inflammation and tissue loss, providing treatments such as scaling to cleanse pockets and root planning to smooth tooth roots. Antibiotics may be placed in the pockets to promote healing and reduce the risk of infection recurrence.

Controlling periodontal disease offers dual benefits: reducing oral discomfort and promoting healthier gums, while also decreasing the frequency of unpleasant respiratory infections associated with COPD and other respiratory problems.

 

If you have questions or concerns about respiratory disease or periodontal disease, please ask your dentist.

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