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COPD and Your Oral Health

Here’s the Connection Between COPD and Your Oral Health

There’s mounting evidence there’s a link between COPD and your oral health. In fact, poor oral hygiene can actually make the lung disease worse.  However, before we get into that, there’s a bright side to this news.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine also reports the opposite is true. Look after your gums and your respiratory system stays relatively healthy too.

Here at City Oasis Dental, we want all of our patients to be well informed. That’s why we’ve done some research on the connection between COPD and your oral health. It’s important to present fact from fiction and debunk any myths you might have read.

The Symptoms

First off, you should know the symptoms. COPD usually shows itself in adults over 40 years of age who smoke or have quit. Researchers tell us that asthma can be caused by exposure to dust, mold and even pollen.

Not so with COPD. Smoking is the main reason for 90% of COPD deaths, according to Everyday Health.

So, what are the symptoms?

Shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing are the three big red flags. These generally worsen over time.

The Science Connecting COPD and Your Oral Health

The Journal of the COPD Foundation has drawn a straight line between this disease and what goes on inside your mouth. Specifically, the data points to a direct relationship between poor oral health and the worsening of COPD. There’s been a lot written about this that we can put into everyday terms.

Not brushing, flossing and neglecting regular checkups increases the bacteria and tartar in your mouth. You actually breathe in some of that bad stuff and it makes COPD worse.  The more teeth you’ve got, the worse it is when you combine poor oral hygiene and COPD. The reason is simple. Neglect your teeth and there’s more places for the bad stuff to hide.

Need a little more convincing? The College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario have been studying the link between COPD and oral health for several years. Their 2015 report says that COPD doesn’t directly affect the mouth and teeth. However, some of the medications used to treat the disease can contribute to oral disease. Once something like gingivitis takes hold, it can make lung disease worse if left untreated.

The research signals out inhaled corticosteroids and inhaled anticholinergics as two examples. These inhalers can affect COPD and your oral health.

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