Respiratory disease and oral health
Did you know chronic lower respiratory disease is the third-leading cause of death in the United States?1 Strong evidence points to poor oral care as a contributing factor.
Making the connection
The link between poor oral hygiene, gum disease and diabetes is well-known. Research suggests that bacteria from gum disease can also contribute to other poor medical conditions. For example, the bacteria can travel through airways and into the lungs, which can lead to potentially life-threatening respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia.
Who’s most at risk?
If you have an existing respiratory condition, your lungs already have a hard time fighting off incoming bacteria. Poor oral health may worsen your condition if you’re in the following high-risk groups:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) sufferers
- Cancer patients
- HIV carriers
If you’re already suffering from respiratory problems, discuss them with your dentist immediately. He or she can create a safe, effective treatment plan to avoid aggravating your condition.
Excellent dental habits for good respiratory health
A great way to protect your respiratory system is to practice good oral hygiene. It reduces the chance that bacteria and plaque in your mouth will inflame your airways and prevents other breathing problems. Some simple ways to keep your mouth healthy include:
- Brush your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled brush
- Limit snacking between meals
- Drink water throughout the day
- Floss to remove dental plaque from places that your toothbrush can’t reach. Food debris left between your teeth can cause bad breath and lead to gum disease. Avoid sweets and other empty-calorie snacks that cause tooth decay. Bacteria and sugar produce acids that attack the teeth.
The TRICARE Dental Program has you covered
- National Vital Statistics Reports, Deaths: Leading Causes for 2008, 06/122.