Gum disease is a serious, progressive disease that begins its attack on your gums before spreading to destroy your teeth and jawbone. It starts as gingivitis, an often-silent attack, only making itself known through red, inflamed gums that bleed when you brush. Because of this, gingivitis is often mistaken for rough hygiene practices.
Untreated, gingivitis becomes periodontitis. Bacteria travel below your gum line, causing gum recession, chronic bad breath and eventually tooth loss. Did you know, however, that gum disease affects more than just your mouth? It can actually have a negative impact on your lungs.
Gum disease is linked to several different respiratory problems, including COPD, pneumonia and bronchitis. But how does this happen? It has to do with the inhalation of oral bacteria. Every time you breathe through your mouth, the air you draw in passes over your teeth and gums, areas where the bacteria reside.
With some breaths, you may also draw some of that bacteria into your lungs. The moist environment is perfect for survival. These same bacteria, which is responsible for inflammation of your gums, can also cause inflammation of the tissues in your lungs, limiting the amount of air that can easily flow in and out.
Both gum disease and respiratory problems will require separate diagnoses by different professionals, but these professionals will need to work together to provide you with the best possible results.
Your periodontist will be able to diagnose the extent of your gum disease and implement the best course of action, which includes getting rid of the plaque, tartar and bacteria on your teeth and under your gums. This often requires scaling and root planing, but may also require surgery. And by treating periodontal disease, you will be able to heal properly with treatment for respiratory issues.
Gum disease can lead to lung trouble. However, this can be prevented with good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing and visits with your dentist. If you do notice signs of gum disease, contact our office as soon as possible.