There have been studies linking periodontal disease to the other inflammatory diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and various other ailments. Recently, there have been studies supporting an association between periodontal and upper respiratory disease; respiratory disease, including pneumonia, acute bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Statistically speaking 9 out of 10 adults have some form of periodontitis. Because respiratory infections can be debilitating, it is important to further investigate the connection between the two conditions.
Upper respiratory infections typically occur when different types of bacteria are inhaled into the lungs. Bacteria that cause periodontitis can also be inhaled into the respiratory tract and increase the risk of infection. Studies have been shown that due to the presence of oral pathogens, the inflammatory response weakens the host’s immune system, thereby increasing the risk for developing or aggravating respiratory infection. Even though the presence of bacteria is what determines the disease, it is the host’s response to the bacteria that is essential in the initiation and progression of the disease.
It has been found that a group with respiratory disease had poor periodontal health compared to the healthy group. Despite studies showing the link between to the two conditions, more research is necessary to determine if and how the inflammatory response to the periodontal bacteria leads to the development or exacerbation of respiratory infection.
SOURCES: Donald S. Clem DDS
Sharma N., Shamsuddin H.