Respiratory Tract Infections Origins in the Mouth?

Published on May 21, 2012 by

Epidemiologic and intervention studies have suggested an association between poor oral health and respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Increased presence of dental caries, determined by the number of decayed, missing and filled teeth, has also been found to increase pulmonary impairment. A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey study found a significant 4.5 times increase in chronic respiratory disease in subjects that had poor oral hygiene when compared to those with good oral hygiene. Periodontal bacteria have also been found in infected lung fluids and lung tissues. Limeback noted a relationship between poor oral hygiene and aspiration pneumonia among elderly residents of chronic care facilities. He subsequently found that the nursing homes with the least number of dental visits had the most deaths due to pneumonia. Loesche and Lopatin have studied oral and dental conditions in elderly individuals that may predispose individuals for aspiration pneumonia, and found that individuals with “definite”aspiration pneumonia were 3.3 times more likely to have a higher periodontal disease score than the individuals without pneumonia.

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