Periodontitis is an inflammatory disease, which is characterized by the destruction of the tooth-supporting structures resulting from an overreaction of the inflammatory process. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a prime pulmonary disease characterized by a limitation in the airflow.
The possible relationship between chronic periodontitis and COPD has become an increasing focus of research. The aspiration of oral pathogens into the lung is considered to be the major factor, because these oral pathogens might cause pneumonia directly. The initial accumulation of the dental plaque further facilitates the colonization of the upper airway by pulmonary pathogens. A number of epidemiological studies have indicated an independent association between chronic periodontitis and COPD. Some cross-sectional and case-control studies reported significant associations between chronic periodontitis and a history of COPD and lung function decline. Furthermore, periodontitis has been related to the longitudinal decline in the spirometric lung volumes.
If periodontitis is causally associated with a decline of lung function, it is reasonable to implement the periodontal prevention and treatment as therapeutic options to correct the lung malfunction, or at least to support the dedicated treatments of pulmonary diseases, and the common risk factor may explain the association between periodontitis and COPD. The present article briefly reviews the epidemic evidence and common risks between chronic periodontitis and COPD.