Cleaning your teeth properly and regularly may not just prevent gum disease but it could potentially reduce the risk of pneumonia as well.
Researchers of Yale University School of Medicine found changes in bacteria in the mouth preceded the development of pneumonia.
Poor oral health has been associated with respiratory diseases, as bacterial chest infections are thought to be caused by breathing in fine droplets from the throat and mouth into the lungs.
The Dental Health Foundation has warned that poor oral hygiene could cause the respiratory infection after research found a link between bacteria in the mouth and the lung disease.
Although further research is required, it said the latest study is not the first to associate poor oral health with respiratory diseases.
The team followed 37 subjects over a month. They found patients who developed pneumonia had experienced a significant shift in the ‘bacterial composition’ in their mouths beforehand.
The research was presented at the Infectious Diseases Society of America annual meeting in Boston.
Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said the latest research backed their findings that looking after your teeth boosts your overall health.
‘What people must remember, particularly those highlighted as vulnerable, is that prevention can be very basic. Systemic links between gum disease and overall health have been well documented, and at this time of year keeping up good oral health can really help stave off illness,’ Dr. Carter said.
It is thought pneumonia affects over 620,000 people in the UK and claims the lives of 25,073 people in England in 2009, compared to 34,271 in 1999.