5 Odd Health Benefits of Brushing Your Teeth

5: Prevent Respiratory Diseases

You don't usually associate teeth brushing with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and pneumonia, but it turns out, you can. So, what's the correlation?

COPD and pneumonia are potentially disabling respiratory infections and primary causes of death in the United States. These infections occur when bacteria get into the lower respiratory tract [source: ScienceDaily]. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection and it starts when bacteria from plaque gets in and around the teeth [source: American Academy of Periodontology]. Can you see where this is leading?


In January 2011, the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) published information about a new study linking periodontal disease with respiratory disease. Research showed that the bacteria associated with periodontal disease could increase the risk of developing COPD and pneumonia. On the other hand, teeth brushing can reduce your chances of periodontal disease because it takes care of tartar and plaque, preventing the bacterial build-up in your mouth. "By working with your dentist or periodontist, you may actually be able to prevent or diminish the progression of harmful diseases such as pneumonia or COPD," said Donald Clem, DDS and president of the AAP [source: ScienceDaily].

So, while it doesn't seem like much, that two to three minute brushing a few times a day could actually save your life. It may also save your baby's too, as we'll see on the next page.