For the past several years, we’ve known that there has been a high correlation between periodontal disease and respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia. Why? Essentially, it’s due to the inhalation of disease-causing bacteria from the oral cavity and down into the airway.
The more aggressive a person’s gum disease is, the more likely they are (statistically speaking) to be diagnosed with a respiratory infection like pneumonia. Especially if they’re in a long-term care facility or hospital.
It should come as no surprise then to learn that last year, scientists discovered a link between gum disease and requiring a ventilator during hospitalization with COVID-19. Those with active periodontal infections were more at risk than their peers with healthy gum tissues.
The Technical Reasons Behind the Risk
Specific types of cytokines and enzymes inside of the mouth allow for an increase in pathogenic types of bacteria. It’s the same reason we see specific forms of interleukins in people with periodontitis and uncontrolled diabetics. The conditions are all essentially interwoven with one another, with pro-inflammatory cytokines affecting various organ systems throughout the body (as opposed to remaining isolated in a particular area.)
Since periodontal disease is a type of chronic inflammatory disease, research supports the idea that combatting the infection can positively impact other types of chronic inflammatory conditions.
What Can be Done to Help?
Are you or someone in your family prone to airway diseases, such as asthma, reactive airway disease, a frequent cough, or pneumonia? Then one of the simplest things you can do to reduce the bacterial load inside of your body is to ensure the opening of your airway is as healthy as possible. That is your mouth. Because if it isn’t, you risk swallowing or inhaling oral bacteria straight into your respiratory tract and lungs.
First and foremost, be on the lookout for major signs of gum disease, like:
• Bleeding gums
• Loose teeth
• Tartar buildup
• Spaces between teeth
If you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease in the past but haven’t given it much thought, now is the time to take action.
Visiting a periodontal specialist for a screening, cleaning, and applicable gum therapy can help to reverse your oral infection in a short time. Especially if you see an expert like Dr. Saunders, who offers laser treatments to combat gum disease.
The great news is that people with underlying health issues can see an improvement in their overall wellness as soon as a few months after eradicating periodontal disease from their mouth. Instead of treating one condition or the other, both must be managed consecutively. Otherwise, it can turn into a vicious cycle that suppresses your immune system.
Changes at Our Dental Office
One of the things we did to protect our patients is invest in added air purification systems throughout our office. By filtering out potential particles from the air, we can help to safeguard those of our patients who may be more apt to respiratory flare-ups, asthma, pneumonia, and other airway diseases.
Call our gum specialist in The Woodlands today to reserve your next appointment with us.