Studies have shown that gum disease contributes to diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and Alzheimers. But did you know that gum disease may also lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia?

A new study in India, published in the Journal of Periodontology, states that periodontal disease may increase the risk for respiratory disease. COPD and pneumonia are severely debilitating infections, and are two leading causes of death. Respiratory infections occur when bacteria from the throat are inhaled into the lower respiratory tract.

Two hundred people between the age of 20 and 60 participated in the study.  Half of the participants were hospitalized with either COPD or pneumonia, and the other half were healthy. All participants received a comprehensive oral health examination to measure their periodontal health status.

The results of the study indicated that the participants with a respiratory disease had worse periodontal health than those in the healthy control group. Researchers suspected that the oral pathogens associated with gum disease increased the risk of a person contracting a respiratory disease.

“By working with your dentist or periodontist, you may actually be able to prevent or diminish the progression of harmful diseases such as pneumonia or COPD,” stated Donald S. Clem , president of the American Academy of Periodontology. “This study provides yet another example of how periodontal health plays a role in keeping other systems of the body healthy.”

I’m Dr. Corbet Locke, a dentist in Waco, and I encourage you to recognize the importance of routine oral care to promote healthy gums. Gum disease is a chronic inflammatory disease. To prevent gum disease, you should brush twice a day, floss daily, and visit your dentist every six months. If you have concerns about gum disease or need your six month cleaning, call my Waco dentist office at (254)776-4888 to schedule an appointment. Oral Health affects your overall health!