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Good Oral Hygiene May Benefit Your Lungs

good oral hygiene, oral hygiene and lung disease, lung disease, oral hygieneDid you know that poor oral hygiene can affect your lungs? It’s true, having few remaining teeth, increased plaque, and practicing infrequent tooth brushing may be associated with worsening COPD symptoms.[1] What’s more, gum disease related to poor oral health and inadequate dental care may be associated with an increased risk of a number of long-term illnesses, including COPD.[2]

What Good Oral Hygiene Really Means

When it comes to defining good oral hygiene it’s best to head straight to the source. Colgate, one of America’s leading toothpaste manufacturers, equates good oral hygiene to a mouth that looks and smells healthy and fresh. This can be further demonstrated as:[3]

  • Teeth that are clean and free of debris
  • Pinkish gums that don’t bleed when you brush or floss them
  • Breath that’s generally fresh and clean

Proper Brushing Technique

Colgate recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day using the following brushing technique:3

  • Tilt your brush at a 45 degree angle against your gum line. Using a gentle sweep or rolling motion, brush downwards, away from your gums.
  • Be sure to gently brush the outside, inside, and chewing surface of each tooth. Use short, back-and-forth strokes.
  • Gently brush your tongue to further freshen breath and remove bacteria from your mouth.

Proper Flossing Technique

Many of us forget to floss, however Colgate recommends flossing at least once a day to decrease your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. If you’re not sure how to floss correctly, here are a few tips:3

  • Opening up your dental floss container, tear off about 18 inches of floss. Hold the floss with both hands making sure you leave an inch or two in between your fingers to work with.
  • Gently insert the dental floss in-between each tooth.
  • Following the curves of your teeth, move the floss back and forth against your gums, just beneath the gum line. Try to avoid snapping the floss against the gums.

More Oral Hygiene Tips

In addition to brushing and flossing, the following steps are recommended to further decrease your risk of dental problems:3

  • Eat a nutritious, balanced diet. Limit snacking in between meals.
  • Use toothpaste and other dental products that contain fluoride.
  • Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash, if recommended by your dentist.
  • Make sure that children living with you under the age of 12 drink water that contains fluoride, or take fluoride supplements if you live in an area that doesn’t add fluoride to your water source.

[1] Liu Z, et. al. “Oral hygiene, periodontal health and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations.” J Clin Periodontol. 2012 Jan;39(1):45-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-051X.2011.01808.x. Epub 2011 Oct 24.

[2] Prasanna, Surya J. “Causal Relationship Between Periodontitis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.” Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology 15.4 (2011): 359–365. PMC. Web. 2 Feb. 2015.

[3] ‘What is Good Oral Hygiene?” Colgate Oral and Dental Health Resource Center. Accessed January 31, 2015.


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