Dee Nishimine, D.D.S., Inc.
Sophia Y. Tseng, D.M.D.
Periodontics & Dental Implants
Call: (559)229-6557

PD and Respiratory Disease

Drs. Dennis Nishimine, Dee Nishimine,  & Sophia Tseng during the intitial examination will ask about any history of respiratory disease. "Do you have any shorteness of breath?" "Do you have any difficulty of walking up a flight of stairs?" "Do you tire easily?"

Periodontal Disease (PD also called periodontitis and gum disease) has been linked to respiratory disease through recent research studies.  Researchers have concluded that Periodontal Disease (PD)  can worsen conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and may actually play a causal role in the contraction of pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema.

Periodontal Disease (PD) is a progressive condition which generally begins with a bacterial infection.  The bacteria found in bacterial  plaque begin to colonize in gingival tissue, causing an inflammatory response in which the body destroys both gum and bone tissue.  The "bugs in your mouth go to your lungs."

There are a number of different respiratory diseases linked to Periodontal Disease (PD) .  Pneumonia, COPD, and bronchitis are among the most common.  Generally, bacterial respiratory infections occur due to the inhalation of fine droplets from the mouth into the lungs. COPD is a leading cause of death and should be taken very seriously.

Reasons for the Connection

The fact that respiratory disease and Periodontal Disease (PD)  are linked may seem far-fetched, but there is plenty of evidence to support it. Your mouth or oral cavity and nasal passageways are in direct connnection to your lung or respiratory system.

Here are some of the reasons for the link between Periodontal Disease (PD) and respiratory disease:

  • Bacterial spread – The specific type of oral bacterium that causes Periodontal Disease (PD)  can easily be drawn into the lower respiratory tract.  Once the bacteria colonize in the lungs, it can cause pneumonia and exacerbate serious conditions such as COPD.

  • Low immunity – It has been well-documented that most people who experience chronic or persistent respiratory problems suffer from low immunity.  This low immunity allows oral bacteria to embed itself above and below the gum line without being challenged by the body’s immune system.  Not only does this accelerate the progression of Periodontal Disease (PD), it also puts the sufferer at increased risk of developing emphysema, pneumonia and COPD.

  • Modifiable factors – Smoking is thought to be the leading cause of COPD and other chronic respiratory conditions.  Tobacco use also damages the gingiva and compromises the good health of the oral cavity in its entirety.  Tobacco use slows the healing process, causes gum pockets to grow deeper and also accelerates attachment loss.  Smoking is not the sole cause of Periodontal Disease (PD) , but it is certainly a cofactor to avoid.
  • Smoking cessation-  Smoking or the use of tobacco products is very harmful and may lead to lung cancer.  We will encourage that you discontinue the use of tobacco products and may prescribe medications for a smoking cessation program designed for you.

  • Inflammation – Periodontal Disease (PD) causes the inflammation and irritation of oral tissue.  It is possible that the oral bacteria causing the irritation could contribute to inflammation of the lung lining, thus limiting the amount of air that can freely pass to and from the lungs.

Diagnosis and Treatment

When respiratory disease and Periodontal Disease (PD) are both diagnosed in one individual, it is important that Drs. Dennis Nishimine, Dee Nishimine, & Sophia Tseng work very carefully wiht your medical doctor. They and your doctor(pulmonologist) shall work as a team to control both conditions.  There are many non-surgical and surgical options available, depending on the specific condition of the teeth, gums and jaw.

The Periodontal Implant Team is able to assess the extent of the inflammation and tissue loss and can treat the bacterial infection easily.  Scaling procedures cleanse the deep pockets of debris and root planing smoothes the tooth root to eliminate any remaining bacteria.  The Periodontal Implant Team may  place antibiotics into the pockets after cleaning to promote good healing and reduce the risk of the infection returning.

Corrective or surgical procedures may be the most beneficial in reducing the deep pockets which harbor the bacteria which have an affect upon your respiratory disease.  Our goal is to bring the foundation back to a state of health that you can maintain daily.  Your daily OHI of Brushing and Flossing are the key to success.

Whichever treatment is deemed the most suitable, the benefits of controlling Periodontal Disease (PD)  are two-fold.  Firstly, any discomfort in the oral region will be reduced and the gums will be much healthier.  Secondly, the frequent, unpleasant respiratory infections associated with COPD and other common respiratory problems will reduce in number.

If you have questions or concerns about respiratory disease or periodontal disease, please ask our Periodontal Implant  Team.  Contact us