Maintaining healthy gums and teeth is not a sign of narcissism, but a must for ensuring general health. The relationship between oral health and well-being has been proven for the heart, autoimmune diseases including Sjogrenâ€™s Syndrome, diabetes and Alzheimerâ€™s disease. New research has indicated that periodontal disease may increase the risk for respiratory infections, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis and pneumonia.
COPD and pneumonia are respiratory infections caused by oral bacteria. When bacterium from the upper throat are inhaled and lodged into the lower respiratory tract, the results can be crippling. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, Chronic lower respiratory diseases claims 127,924 lives annually while influenza and pneumonia kills 52,717 people (2007). A study published by the Journal of Periodontology has shown how periodontal health may impact the respiratory system.
The Periodontal Health and Respiratory System Connection
The scientific research involved the analysis of a group of 200 participants, ranging between ages 20 and 60. Each group member had a minimum 20 natural teeth (as opposed to dental implants or bridge work) and were interviewed to gauge their periodontal health. Group participants were divided into two groups of either a healthy control group or patients who were hospitalized with respiratory diseases including pneumonia, COPD, or chronic bronchitis.
The study found that those who had lackluster periodontal health were more than likely to be the individuals hospitalized with respiratory diseases. The scientists hypothesized the "Presence of oral pathogens associated with periodontal disease may increase a patients risk of developing or exacerbating respiratory disease," (ScienceDaily.com).
Additional research proving the theory has come from researchers at the University of Buffalo. "Researchers there examined the dental plaque on the teeth of seniors who were admitted to the ICU. They discovered that the patients who contracted pneumonia while in the ICU had more dental plaque on their teeth and were more likely to have respiratory pathogens living in their plaques," (1-800-DENTIST).