We typically think of the look of our smile when it comes to our oral health. Yet, creating a good oral hygiene routine goes well beyond a dazzling smile. It plays a major role in your overall well-being. One surprising connection to your oral health lies with your respiratory system. The state of your oral health can affect your respiratory health. There are potential risks associated with poor oral health and gum disease. As a result, you must have a strong oral hygiene routine to reduce your risks.
The Oral Connection
The oral cavity, including your mouth and throat, is a gateway to your respiratory system. Your mouth is home to millions of bacteria. Some of these are harmless, but others can lead to infections and diseases if left unchecked. When your oral hygiene is lacking, harmful bacteria can multiply. This can potentially lead to gum disease and other oral health issues. But how does this relate to your lungs?
The Risks of Gum Disease
Gum disease is a common oral health condition that targets the gums and the nearby tissues. It usually begins with gingivitis–the first stage of gum disease. You may notice swollen or bleeding gums when you brush or floss. If you don’t seek treatment, gingivitis can progress to more severe forms of gum disease.
As gum disease advances, it can directly impact your respiratory health. The harmful bacteria that grow in your mouth can find their way into your lungs through inhalation or aspiration. This is particularly common with those with compromised immune systems. Once bacteria gets in your lungs, it can cause or worsen certain respiratory conditions, such as pneumonia.
Respiratory Conditions and Oral Health
Some people with existing respiratory conditions may face a higher risk of developing oral health problems. Conditions like asthma, for example, can lead to mouth breathing. As a result, this can dry out the oral cavity. A dry mouth is more susceptible to bacterial growth, increasing the chance of gum disease and tooth decay.
Also, some medications for respiratory issues may have side effects that impact oral health. For instance, certain inhalers can lead to oral thrush. This is a fungal infection of the mouth. For those with respiratory conditions, it is crucial to be proactive with your oral health. If you have oral or respiratory problems, you need to talk to your dentist. You can help minimize your oral health issues.
Oral Health and Respiratory Infections
Because your oral and respiratory health are connected, you need to have a good oral hygiene routine. As a result, you can reduce the risk of respiratory infections due to oral bacteria. Therefore, it is crucial to brush and floss your teeth regularly, along with routine dental check-ups. This process can help keep harmful bacteria at bay. When you prevent oral infections and gum disease, you can also lower your chances of these infections spreading to your respiratory system.