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AAP Reports on Link to Respiratory Diseases
Release Date: January 20, 2011

CHICAGO, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Maintaining healthy teeth and gums may reduce pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease risks, the head of a U.S. dentists' organization says.

Donald S. Clem, a dentist and president of the American Academy of Periodontology, said the study involved 200 participants ages of 20-60 with at least 20 natural teeth. Half of the participants were hospitalized patients with a respiratory disease such as pneumonia, COPD, or acute bronchitis, and the other half were healthy control subjects with no history of respiratory disease.

Each participant underwent a comprehensive oral evaluation to measure periodontal health status.

The study, published in the Journal of Periodontology, found patients with respiratory diseases had worse periodontal health than the control group. The researchers found periodontal disease may increase a patient's risk of developing or exacerbating respiratory disease.

Additional studies are needed to understand the link more conclusively, but the researchers say they suspect the bacteria that cause periodontal disease found in the upper throat become inhaled into the lower respiratory tract.

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