Severe gum disease is linked to impaired lung function

Credit: CC0 Public Domain.

Scientists from the University of Bergen found that lung function declines with increasingly severe gum disease.

The link between periodontal disease and lung function means that good dental hygiene may benefit both oral and respiratory health.

The research was presented at EuroPerio10 and was conducted by Dr. Anders Røsland et al.

Previous research has found that dental cleaning including plaque removal is associated with a reduction in symptom flare-ups in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

This study examined the association between lung function and periodontitis in the community-based Malmö Offspring Dental Study.

The team examined 1,021 participants, of which 513 were men and 508 were women. The average age was 44.5 years. A dental check-up was performed, including X-rays and an examination of the teeth and gums.

The team found moderate periodontitis was diagnosed in 289 (28%) participants and 71 (7%) had severe periodontitis.

The remaining 661 (65%) were classified as no periodontitis (healthy) or mild periodontitis and acted as a comparison group.

The average age of those with severe periodontitis was 55 years and 59% were men. Smoking was significantly more common in people with moderate or severe periodontitis compared with the healthy/mild group.

Lung function was assessed using spirometry, which measures the volume of air exhaled from the lungs and the flow rate of air.

The team found that lung function declined with the increasing severity of periodontitis.

In analyses adjusted for age, sex, smoking, body mass index, diabetes, and educational level, strong links were observed between lung function and severe gum disease.

The team says all measures of lung function deteriorated as gum disease worsened. In addition, as gum inflammation became more widespread throughout the mouth, some of the respiratory values tended to worsen.

A decline in lung function may indicate airway inflammation, possibly originating from inflamed gums and the inhalation of dental plaque, which contains bacteria.

If this link between gum disease and lung function is confirmed, this could provide the rationale for periodontal treatment and oral hygiene programs to improve oral and respiratory health.

If you care about gum health, please read studies about new causes of tooth decay and gum diseases, and common heartburn drugs may benefit your tooth and gum health.

For more information about gum health, please see recent studies about mouthwash that may increase your tooth damage, and results showing this common gum disease may double your risk of high blood pressure.

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