New research suggests cleaning your teeth can help you breathe easy, after adults with gum disease were five times more likely to develop asthma.
Researchers identified that, despite age, body mass index and smoking habits, people with gum disease were still at risk from developing asthma, a condition that claims three lives every day in the UK.
According to Asthma UK, 5.4 million people in the UK are currently receiving treatment for asthma. The UK has some of the highest rates of asthma across Europe, a fact that could be linked to the UK's attitudes towards oral health.
Oral health charity the British Dental Health Foundation estimates less than half of all adults have an acceptable oral hygiene routine. Figures from the Adult Dental Health Survey revealed that basic dental products that can reduce the chances of developing gum disease aren't being utilised as part of an all-round routine. Only three in 10 (31 per cent) people use mouthwash and less than one in four (22 per cent) use floss.
The same data also showed 42 per cent of adults only use a toothbrush and toothpaste, with more than one in four (27 per cent) saying they use an electric brush. Furthermore, it also showed how less than one in four adults (24 per cent) do not know what level of fluoride their toothpaste should contain.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, explained how adults can lower their chances of developing asthma.
Dr Carter said: "The research points to a significant association between gum disease and asthma. Both are incredibly common. In fact, gum disease is one of the biggest non-communicable diseases (NCD) globally.
"It is, however, as easy to prevent as it is to develop. Brushing for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste as soon as you wake up and just before you go to bed is a staple of good oral health. Combine this with cleaning in between your teeth once a day using interdental brushes or floss and regular visits to the hygienist for a thorough clean and gum disease can easily become a thing of the past.
"Yes, we know not everyone follows this advice, but it's so simple. There really is no excuse for not doing so. Asthma is in a long line of health problems linked to gum disease which also includes heart problems, dementia, pregnancy complications and even pancreatic cancer. However trivial the advice may seem, it needs to be followed."
The study, published in the Journal of Periodontology, looked at 220 people – 113 of those had asthma, 107 did not. After being diagnosed with gum disease, researchers accounted for age, schooling level, osteoporosis, smoking habit and body mass index and still found the chances of adults with gum disease were approximately five times more likely to develop asthma than those without gum disease.