The Relationship Between Oral Hygiene And Respiratory Health

Middle-aged woman brushing her teeth in the mirror

Here at All Smiles DentistryThis link leads to Home page, we recommend routine dental careThis link leads to Dental Exams page to prevent cavities and gum disease.

While cavities can cause pain, gum disease may lead to tooth loss or worse in the more serious cases.

Your oral health can affect other parts of your body, including the risk of cardiovascular disease from gum disease.

However, your oral health’s connection with other parts of the body doesn’t stop there, which may make you wonder, “Is there a connection between oral hygiene and respiratory health?

How are oral health and overall health connected?

Poor oral health and overall health can go hand in hand.

For one, harmful bacteria can accumulate in your mouth when you don’t brush, floss, and see the dentist regularly.

While those bacteria are known for causing bad breath and, even worse, tooth loss when left untreated, it can spread beyond your mouth, increasing your likelihood of respiratory disease.

If the bacteria travel to your respiratory system, it can cause inflammation in the lining of the lungs, making it harder for you to inhale and exhale fully.

When you inhale, your lungs may take in the bacteria, possibly causing bronchitis and pneumonia. (oh no!)

Bronchitis—inflammation in the bronchial tubes—happens when the bacteria in your mouth enter the lung through regular breathing.

If you have emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it can worsen the symptoms.

For those without emphysema and COPD, your risk of these chronic respiratory conditions may rise from the oral bacteria.

What are oral bacteria?

Oral bacteria are unicellular microorganisms that live inside your mouth.

An average mouth has more than 700 species of bacteriasome good, some bad. (Wow! Right?)

The good bacteria can ward off the bad, while the harmful bacteria can cause cavities and gum disease.

Without good oral hygiene practices, including seeing a dentist bi-yearly, the harmful bacteria can remain and spread in the body.

Can a tooth infection cause breathing problems

Let’s say you have a tooth abscess.

The bacteria from it can travel to your lungs.

And you guessed, the infection could then contribute to breathing problems.

Breathing in harmful bacteria

As noted above, you could breathe in harmful bacteria from your mouth that can lead to a lung infection.

You also breathe in bacteria that your saliva will store.

While your immune system is already busy with the current oral infection, this bacterium may sneak right on by and irritate your lungs and cause inflammation.

Oral bacteria in the blood

Oral bacteria can also use your blood vessels as its subway system.

These microorganisms may then take a one-way ticket to your lungs and wreak havoc.

Good oral hygiene is key

dark-haired women brushing her teeth

Although you can prevent some respiratory illnesses by washing your hands and staying away from those with a known infection, part of prevention entails your oral health.

Not to mention, you can also reduce your risk of chronic lung problems in the process.

The key to this is good oral hygiene, which means brushing twice daily and flossing at least once per day. (Your mouth and lungs will thank you!)

And we can’t forget visiting your dentist regularly for routine cleanings!

A person without oral or specific health problems should see the dentist twice yearly.

People with certain medical conditions and oral health problems may need to see the dentist more frequently, which you can discuss with us at your first visit.

Overall, your oral hygiene and respiratory health have a connection. So, keeping your mouth healthy can also help you breathe a bit easier!

Give us a call or send us a message today to get your oral health on track and prevent gum disease, cavities, and possibly a lung infection!


While we gladly accept residents from our practice’s city of Lake Stevens, WA, we also welcome those in Lochsloy, Lake Bosworth, Marysville, Machias, and Sisco Heights.

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