It is widely known that brushing our teeth and flossing helps to maintain and strengthen our oral health. However, there are a range of other benefits that strong oral hygiene has. Upcoming research will see if improving lung health is another benefit to toothbrushing and flossing. The research will be important, and is expected to place even more importance on our oral health.
Good oral hygiene is very important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it can benefit our oral health, and lessen the risk of caries or gum disease developing.
Many people believe that hygiene measures like brushing our teeth and flossing just benefits our oral health. However, this is far from the case.
It is already known that oral health is linked to several physical health conditions. Now, upcoming research will be looking to see if strong oral hygiene has a positive impact on the health of our lungs.
The link between oral health and physical health
Existing research has showed a clear link between oral health and physical health. This includes cardiovascular problems, respiratory issues and diabetes.
For instance, gum disease has continuously been connected to heart disease . This appears to be linked to the bacteria that causes gum disease. It is believed that bacteria is able to enter the bloodstream via the mouth, and eventually make it to the heart .
The upcoming research will look in detail at lung health, and the impact oral health has on it. Common lung conditions include Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), pneumonia and lung cancer.
The upcoming research
The upcoming research study is being fronted by Norwegian doctor Randi Bertelsen out of the University of Bergen, Norway . Bertelsen has committed most of her research into lung conditions.
Bertelsen aims to find out whether or not oral health – particularly gum health – is linked to lung diseases. The researchers aim to find out the level of influence bacteria in the mouth has on the lungs .
The study will be using the data of hundreds of people that took part in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECHRS). This survey monitored the respiratory health of participants over a two decade span .
The researchers will be comparing samples of gum health collected a decade ago, with current samples. These samples will allow researchers to also see the types of bacteria that are present in saliva .
They will then be able to cross-reference the samples with results from the ECHRS. Therefore, the researchers will be able to see the impact that gum health has on the respiratory health of participants, aiding their understanding of the impact certain bacteria has on lungs .
Additionally, the research will also have a long-term outlook due to the involvement of some young patients. These participants will not have lung diseases, but they do have mild to moderate gum disease .
These participants will have their bacteria professionally treated. Saliva samples will be taken before and after. These participants will have their lung function monitored over time. This aims to add more information on a potential link between oral health and lung problems.
Bertelsen is entering the study with the hypothesis that the bacteria in the mouth will have a negative effect on the respiratory tract . Subsequently, this would negatively impact lung health.
She stated that they “believe that inflammatory bacteria in the mouth create pockets between the gum and tooth, break down the lining and spread to the heart and lungs” .
What this means
This will be an interesting study to monitor. Whilst the results aren’t expected for some time, it will be useful to see the impact oral health has on lung disease.
It certainly places a strong emphasis on oral hygiene. The link between oral health and physical health is already clear, meaning we need to remember to frequently brush our teeth and floss.
Dr. Bertelsen notes that most chronic lung diseases involve inflammation . The inflammation is associated with a build-up of mucus. Therefore, this makes it hard to breathe for the patient.
Inflammation is one of the main symptoms of gum disease. Many people are affected by gum disease – with many unaware they suffer from it. For instance, over half of European adults are believed to have some form of gum disease .
Dr. Bertelsen has said that patients with severe lung disease often have severe gum disease too. But they are unsure on which comes first out of lung disease and gum disease .
While it isn’t known if oral health problems certainly cause lung issues, the evidence certainly points towards it. This study acts as a reminder that we all need to adopt an excellent oral health hygiene routine.
1) We mentioned above that many people do not realise that they have gum disease. The earlier that gum disease is treated, the better. The best person to be able to see the state of your gums is a dentist. Treatment is available for it too. Therefore, consider booking an appointment as soon as possible!
2) How do you think your oral hygiene is? At a bare minimum, we should all be brushing our teeth at least twice a day, floss regularly and try to avoid sugary food and drink. As part of oral hygiene, it is important to regularly see your dentist. At a regular dental check-up, problems can be identified and then treated. We would urge you to book an appointment as soon as possible!
What we offer at Taradale Dental
Taradale Dental is a dental clinic based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We provide our patients with a warm welcome, a comfortable experience and advice whenever needed.
We recommend that our patients attend our Calgary-based dental clinic twice a year for a regular dental check-up. When problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For instance, these include cavity fillings and root canals.
Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, tooth whitening and Invisalign™! These treatments can have a positive impact on your appearance, confidence, and self-esteem.
Importantly, we recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly. Moreover, eating healthily and trying to avoid sugary foods and drink is helpful.
In addition, all of our services at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide.
We would love you to visit our Taradale Dental clinic in Calgary! You can find out more about us by visiting our website https://taradaledental.ca.
 Harvard Medical School. (2021). Gum disease and heart disease: The common thread. Available: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/gum-disease-and-heart-disease-the-common-thread. Last accessed: 2nd April 2022.
 Chhibber-Goel, J., Singhal, V., Bhowmik, D., Vivek, R., Parakh, N., Bhargava, B., & Sharma, A. (2016). Linkages between oral commensal bacteria and atherosclerotic plaques in coronary artery disease patients. NPJ Biofilms and Microbiomes. 2 (7). DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s41522-016-0009-7.
 King, A. (2022). How flossing and brushing may be good for your lungs. Available: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-03-flossing-good-lungs.html. Last accessed: 2nd April 2022.
 Platform for better Oral Health in Europe. (2012). The State of Oral Health in Europe. Available: http://www.oralhealthplatform.eu/our-work/the-state-of-oral-health-in-europe/. Last accessed: 2nd April 2022.