If you are still thinking that seeing the dentist isn’t an investment in your health, here’s some more information to consider: regular dental checkups can reduce your risk of developing pneumonia. That’s according to a large population-based study that looked at the relationship between these two conditions.

How Poor Oral Health Causes Pneumonia

For a long time, we weren’t sure that there was a link between oral bacteria and pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs, and there are many bacteria that are specifically associated with cases of pneumonia. For years, it was assumed that these bacteria specifically found in the lungs of people with pneumonia were the true cause of the disease. Researchers assumed that lung samples with oral bacteria in them were contaminated when they were extracted through the mouth.

But recently, better extraction techniques have proven that oral bacteria really participate in pneumonia.

Regular dental visits can reduce risk of pneumonia

Oral bacteria always live in the mouth, and when we breathe they can be drawn into the lungs. Normally, the body is strong enough to fight off these infections, but sometimes these infections can take hold, and the bacterial population in the lungs can become dangerous.

How Regular Dental Visits Reduce Your Risk

Oral bacteria are always present in the mouth. We can’t eliminate them. But we can reduce their numbers, and, especially, reduce the numbers of harmful oral bacteria.

You can reduce the population of bacteria in your mouth by brushing and flossing regularly. This removes oral bacteria colonies, called plaque from your teeth and gums.

But you can’t do this alone. Oral bacteria build up in places that you can’t clean very well: between the teeth and gums, under hardened deposits known as tartar, and even inside cavities. This means that between dental visits, the oral bacteria population gets larger. The more bacteria are in the mouth, the more you’re likely to inhale, and the greater your risk of developing pneumonia.

How Much Can You Reduce Your Risk?

So how much of a difference do dental visits make? Quite a bit, according to this study, although the absolute risk of developing pneumonia is small.

The study looked at a survey of over 26,000 people about their healthcare usage. Of these people, 441 reported having pneumonia, only 1.68% of the total population.

However, there was enough data to show that regular dental visits really could reduce your pneumonia risk. The data showed that people who never got dental checkups were 86% more likely to develop pneumonia than those who visit the dentist twice a year. That means that going to the dentist regularly can reduce your risk of developing pneumonia by 47%!

Oral Health Is the Foundation of Good Health

If you are trying to stay healthy, don’t neglect your dental visits. Oral health is a vital foundation to keeping your body healthy. Gum disease is a chronic infection that increases your body’s bacterial load and can lead to chronic inflammation, which is linked to many serious health conditions, such as cancer.

To learn more about how regular dental care helps you stay healthy, please call (949) 551-5902 today for an appointment with an Orange County dentist at Rice Dentistry in Irvine.