Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is a bacterial infection that can destroy the soft tissues and bone that support the teeth. Recent research has demonstrated an association between periodontal disease and several respiratory conditions.
Patients with periodontal disease may have an increased risk of developing respiratory diseases. Many respiratory infections are caused by the aspiration of fine bacteria-containing droplets from the mouth and throat into the lungs. Germs found in these droplets can multiply within your lungs and cause tissue damage. Oral bacteria can also be drawn into the lower respiratory tract, causing bacterial infections or worsening of pre-existing lung conditions. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other respiratory diseases usually have a weakened immune system which hampers their ability to destroy the germs and bacteria, colonizing the lungs. The presence of oral bacteria along with periodontal disease increases the patient’s risk of developing respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.
People with respiratory problems must consider a complete oral health examination to determine the presence of periodontal disease. Proper care and maintenance of periodontal health, by regular brushing and flossing, can help prevent periodontal disease.