Practicing proper dental hygiene is important for not only the health of your teeth, but also the health of your lungs. This is especially true if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Not only are people with COPD at a higher risk for developing gingivitis, tooth decay and periodontal disease, not caring for their teeth can also cause a flare up of COPD symptoms.
Bacteria in the mouth can be inhaled into the lungs and a study published in the Journal of Periodontology suggests that periodontal disease may increase the risk of respiratory infections like COPD. Protect the health of your teeth and lungs by implementing these simple tips:
1. Replace your toothbrush often. If you have COPD or are prone to other respiratory infections, replace your toothbrush frequently to limit the growth of bacteria. Using a newer brush should also help remove more plaque and give you better results after brushing.
2. Floss daily. Brushing alone will not remove plaque build up and food stuck in between the teeth. Floss everyday, ideally after each meal.
3. See your dentist. Most dentists recommend dental visits twice a year, however, with COPD seeing your dentist more often (maybe three times a year) could be a better schedule. Your dentist can closely monitor your oral health and catch any issues sooner rather than later.
4. Drink plenty of water. A common side effect of COPD is dry mouth and this can cause dehydrated oral tissue that leads to tooth decay and periodontal disease. Drink water to keep your gums hydrated. Water can also help to rinse away food particles.
5. Stop smoking. Smoking increases bacteria in the mouth and should be avoided or stopped if you have COPD.
Visit the BlackDoctor.org COPD center for more articles.