The Dental Health Foundation has put out a warning that poor oral hygiene could cause a respiratory infection after research found a link between bacteria in the mouth and lung disease.
At the University School of Medicine they found changes in bacteria in the mouth preceded the development of pneumonia. This research led to the suggestion that changes in oral bacteria play a role in the risk for developing pneumonia.
Poor oral health has been associated with respiratory diseases for a number of years, as bacterial chest infections are thought to be caused by breathing in fine droplets from the throat and mouth into the lungs leading to infections.
Studies have even suggested a higher mortality rate from pneumonia in people with higher numbers of gum problems. Research has also shown that gum disease can lead to heart disease, stroke and complications in pregnancy.
Gum problems tends to lead to gingivitis. Gingivitis is due to the long-term effects of plaque deposits. Plaque is a sticky material made of bacteria, mucus, and food debris that develops on the exposed parts of your teeth. If you do not remove the plaque, it turns into a hard deposit called tartar that becomes trapped at the base of the tooth. Plaque and tartar irritate and inflame the gums. Bacteria and the toxins they produce cause your gums to become infected, swollen, and tender.
Injury to the gums from any cause, including overly vigorous brushing or flossing of the teeth, can cause gingivitis.
The following health issues raise your risk for developing gingivitis:
- General illness
- Poor dental hygiene
- Pregnancy (hormonal changes increase the sensitivity of the gums)
- Uncontrolled diabetes
Symptoms may include:
- Bleeding gums – you’ll notice when brushing your teeth
- Bright red or red-purple appearance to gums
- Gums that are tender when touched, but otherwise painless
- Mouth sores
- Swollen gums
- Shiny look to gums
To prevent this from happening you should brush your teeth at least 2x daily and floss at least once per day. You may need professional dental cleaning every 6 months to prevent the gingivitis from returning. Antiplaque or antitartar mouth rinses may also be used to stop the return of gingivitis.