According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 46% of adults over the age of 30 have signs for gum disease? Chronic diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and emphysema all increase someone’s chances of poor oral health.
Your oral health can also impact your respiratory health, especially with patients with respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and obstructive sleep apnea.
Did you know that there is such a strong link between oral health and respiratory health that there are airway-focused orthodontics to help improve your respiratory health?
Keep reading on to learn about the link between oral health and respiratory health and how an airway-focused orthodontic may help you.
Gum Disease and Respiratory Health
According to the American Thoracic Society, the health of your teeth and gums plays an important role in controlling your lung disease. When you have cavities or gum disease, this can cause bacterial infections. Unfortunately, these bacterial infections can spread to other places in your body, such as the lungs.
Depending on the type of bacteria in the mouth from gum disease or cavities, some bacteria can be inhaled into your lungs.
Unfortunately, patients who already have lung disease have a high risk of these bacteria causing lung infection or making their respiratory disease worse. This can lead to more inflammation in the lungs for patients with certain respiratory conditions, such as COPD and asthma.
Respiratory Medications and Oral Health
In addition to causing infections, some medications needed for respiratory diseases, such as COPD and asthma, can cause damage to your teeth and gums. Many of the inhaled anti-inflammatory medications and bronchodilators that patients with respiratory conditions take can have a side effect of causing dry mouth.
Saliva is necessary to protect your teeth from harmful bacteria. Therefore, dry mouth can put you at an increased risk of cavities and gum disease.
Some patients with respiratory diseases are prescribed inhaled corticosteroid medications. These medications can cause Thrush, also known as oral candidiasis. Thrush is a fungal infection inside the mouth.
If you take a corticosteroid medication to prevent Thrush, try using a spacer. A spacer will help you get more medicine into your lungs and less on your teeth and inside of your mouth. Also, rinse your mouth or brush your teeth after each time you use your inhaler.
Obstructive Breathing Disorders
Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder where someone stops breathing for 10 or more seconds during the night. This can occur multiple times throughout the night. When this happens, there is a decrease in blood oxygen levels, leading to serious health problems over time.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea, and occurs when an anatomical problem blocks off someone’s upper airway muscles, causing an obstruction to the upper airway while they sleep.
For example, for many people with OSA, their throat and tongue muscles will become more relaxed. When these muscles relax, the airway can easily become obstructed if they are too large for the mouth.
Some common causes of OSA include:
- Narrow throat
- Large neck circumference
- Alcohol and drug abuse
Children can experience OSA from enlarged tonsils and adenoids as well.
Orthodontic Options for Obstructive Breathing
Airway focused orthodontics do more than work to straighten crooked teeth. They also look into why your teeth are crooked, and look into treatments for any underlying causes of obstructed breathing.
Airway focused orthodontics will ask various questions and assess your mouth for potential signs for obstructive breathing disorders, such as OSA. Signs that obstructed breathing that airway orthodontics may look for include:
- Poor sleep
- Mouth breathing
- Dry mouth
- Chronic sinus infections
Airway orthodontics can help you come up with a treatment plan and give you treatment options for OSA. While there is no cure for OSA, there are supportive measures that can help treat OSA.
Orthodontic Care: For Both Your Oral Health and Respiratory Health
Your oral health plays a vital role in your overall health, including your respiratory system. People with breathing disorders from COPD, asthma, and OSA need to keep up with their oral health to maintain their respiratory health.
Airway Orthodontics is an excellent tool for anyone who may have OSA.
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