Background: Associations between poor oral health and chronic lung disease have recently been reported. The present study evaluated these potential associations by analyzing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III (NHANES III), which documents the general health and nutritional status of randomly selected United States subjects from 1988 to 1994.
Methods: This cross-sectional, retrospective study of the NHANES III database included a study population of 13,792 subjects > or = 20 years of age with at least 6 natural teeth. A history of bronchitis and/or emphysema was recorded from the medical questionnaire, and a dichotomized variable combined those with either chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema, together considered as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Subject lung function was estimated by calculating the ratio of forced expiratory volume (FEV) after 1 second (FEV1)/forced vital capacity (FVC). Oral health status was assessed from the DMFS/T index (summary of cumulative caries experience), gingival bleeding, gingival recession, gingival probing depth, and periodontal attachment level. Unweighted analyses were used for initial examination of the data, and a weighted analysis was performed in a final logistic regression model adjusting for age, gender, race and ethnicity, education, income, frequency of dental visits, diabetes mellitus, smoking, and alcohol use.
Results: The mean age of all subjects was 44.4 +/- 17.8 years (mean +/- SD): COPD = 51.2 +/- 17.9 years and subjects without COPD = 43.9 +/- 17.7 years. Subjects with a history of COPD had more periodontal attachment loss than subjects without COPD (1.48 +/- 1.35 mm versus 1.17 +/- 1.09 mm, P = 0.0001). Subjects with mean attachment loss (MAL) > or = 3.0 mm had a higher risk of COPD than those having MAL < 3.0 mm (odds ratio, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.02 to 2.05). A trend was noted in that lung function appeared to diminish with increasing periodontal attachment loss.
Conclusions: The findings of the present analysis support recently published reports that suggest an association between periodontal disease and COPD.