If you have emphysema, chronic bronchitis or asthmatic bronchitis (the group of diseases that make up Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD), you have a few good reasons to keep your teeth clean:
• There are over 300 species of bacteria that live in your mouth. Periodontal disease is caused by the plaque producing bacteria
• Studies suggest that periodontal disease may promote the progression of COPD. Bacteria in the mouth may infect the body either through saliva or from breathing into the lungs
• Cytokines are released by the body in defense of periodontal disease. These cytokines tax the body’s immune system
COPD sufferers know an ordinary cold or flu can be destructive. Coughs linger and flu turns into pneumonia.
The bacteria that cause periodontal disease and are taxing your immune system are breeding right now in the cozy, moist, acidic environment of your mouth. The areas between the teeth are particularly good breeding grounds because the bacteria thrive in the absence of oxygen. Symptoms of periodontal disease are often not noticeable until the disease is advanced. A dentist can diagnose the disease in the early stages, prior to individuals realizing they have it.
Periodontal disease is prevented by thoroughly cleaning your teeth. Professional cleanings at a dentist office every six months, brushing teeth twice a day and flossing once a day are recommended. Because it is a laborious task to floss, most people don’t. Yet, to prevent and control periodontal disease, flossing is extremely important. Unfortunately, The Journal of Clinical Periodontology reported that for those that do floss, only 18 – 35% of the plaque between teeth is removed. And oral irrigators can’t cut through plaque’s sticky biofilm.
More tools are available to keep teeth and gums healthier than in the past. Electric toothbrushes, oral irrigators, tongue scrapers, oral disinfectants and a new device – Dental Air Force® that combines brushing and flossing - are available. The Dental Air Force® (dentalairforce.com) also has an added benefit of aerating the sites between teeth, changing the environment and making it difficult for the bacteria to grow.
Studies show that oral health is critical to total health. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that there are over 16 million Americans with COPD and it is the fourth leading cause of death. So, keeping your teeth clean is good “health sense”.