Evidence summary: the relationship between oral health and pulmonary disease

Br Dent J. 2017 Apr 7;222(7):527-533. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2017.315.


Introduction This paper is the second of four reviews exploring the relationships between oral health and general medical conditions, in order to support teams within Public Health England, health practitioners and policymakers.Aim This review aimed to explore the most contemporary evidence on whether poor oral health and pulmonary disease occurs in the same individuals or populations, to outline the nature of the relationship between these two health outcomes, and discuss the implication of any findings for health services and future research.Methods The work was undertaken by a group comprising consultant clinicians from medicine and dentistry, trainees, public health, and academics. The methodology involved a streamlined rapid review process and synthesis of the data.Results The results identified a number of systematic reviews of medium to high quality which provide evidence that oral health and oral hygiene habits have an impact on incidence and outcomes of lung diseases, such as pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in people living in the community and in long-term care facilities. The findings are discussed in relation to the implications for service and future research.Conclusion The cumulative evidence of this review suggests an association between oral and pulmonary disease, specifically COPD and pneumonia, and incidence of the latter can be reduced by oral hygiene measures such as chlorhexidine and povidone iodine in all patients, while toothbrushing reduces the incidence, duration, and mortality from pneumonia in community and hospital patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mouth Diseases / complications
  • Oral Health*
  • Oral Hygiene
  • Pneumonia / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia / etiology
  • Pneumonia / prevention & control
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / etiology