October marks Healthy Lung Month as designated by the Lung Health Institute. You may be surprised to learn that the health of your lungs and the health of your mouth are actually linked! Here at Bowen Legacy Dental, we strive to help educate our patients about the connection between your oral and total-body health. This month, let’s take a look at how to keep your teeth and lungs healthy.
Smoking and your smile
It is no surprise that smoking is bad for your lungs. When it comes to tobacco, the connection between oral and lung health is more complex than you might think. Tobacco users often develop gum disease, an inflammatory disease below the gum line, so the body’s immune system is weaker than it should be because of smoking. This leaves the body unable to fight off the disease, which can lead to tooth loss.
Smoking also has a direct impact on the teeth. Tobacco use leads to increased plaque and tartar buildup, causing cavities, tooth decay, gum irritation, and more dental issues. People who smoke are also more likely to develop oral cancer, just as smoking can lead to lung cancer. To protect your lungs, mouth, and entire body, avoid smoking or vaping at all costs.
Pollution and cancer risks
Pollution is dangerous for your lungs, oral health, and the environment. Breathing in pollution irritates your airways, leading to chest pain, asthma episodes, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. According to the Journal of Investigative Medicine, high levels of small particles in air pollution can be linked to a 43% higher chance of developing mouth cancer. To avoid overexposure to pollution, take a look at the air quality section of your weather app before going outside.
Black mold and decay
Black mold refers to several types of mold with a black or dark green color—some more dangerous than others. Overexposure to such mold can cause coughing and wheezing, especially for those that are sensitive to it.
It has recently been discovered that black mold may also have an impact on dental health. One study found that black mold was present in 100% of tested homes where children were experiencing tooth decay. Black mold develops in warm, moist areas, and its toxic spores can spread from those areas. To protect yourself and your family from the potential effects of black mold, check your bathrooms, around windows, behind long pieces of furniture, and any other moist and dark places, so you can have it treated as necessary.
Habits for healthy lungs
Aside from avoiding smoking, pollution, and mold, there are steps you can proactively take to benefit both your lungs and oral health. Brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day helps clear away the buildup of bad bacteria, which, if neglected, can lead to infection in the mouth that could spread to the lungs.
Exercising regularly helps keep your heart and lungs strong and healthy, so be sure to stay active. As an added benefit, exercise also helps reduce your risk of gum disease! Additionally, many foods that are good for your lungs are also good for your teeth. Peppers, apples, pumpkins, tomatoes, and green tea are all examples of antioxidant-rich foods that help to strengthen the lungs and are much better for the teeth than those full of starch and sugars.
This month and every month, make sure to practice habits that will have your teeth, lungs, and whole body thanking you! Have any questions or ready to schedule an appointment? Give us a call at 614.459.2300.