Lung Disease

The health of your gums can also play a role in lung disease. Both gum disease and cavities are due in part to bacterial infection, and this infection can potentially spread to the lungs. Also, some lung disease medications can cause damage to teeth or gums, can increase risk of infection, and cause staining or loss of enamel.

Considerable evidence exists to support a relationship between poor oral health, the oral microflora and bacterial pneumonia, especially ventilator-associated pneumonia in institutionalized patients. Teeth or dentures have non-shedding surfaces on which oral biofilms (that is, dental plaque) form that are susceptible to colonization by respiratory pathogens. Subsequent aspiration of respiratory pathogens shed from oral biofilms into the lower airway increases the risk of developing a lung infection. In addition, patients may aspirate inflammatory products from inflamed periodontal tissues into the lower airway, contributing to lung insult. A number of studies have shown that the mouth can be colonized by respiratory pathogens and serve as a reservoir for these organisms. Other studies have demonstrated that oral interventions aimed at controlling or reducing oral biofilms can reduce the risk of pneumonia in high-risk populations. Taken together, the evidence is substantial that improved oral hygiene may prevent pneumonia in vulnerable patients.