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Get Healthier Lungs with This 2-Minute Habit

Get Healthier Lungs with This 2-Minute Habit

Two minutes in the morning and two minutes in the evening and your lungs may be breathing fine for a very long time. We're talking about brushing your teeth.

As you've no doubt heard, good dental hygiene helps prevent gum disease. But what you might not know? One study suggests that gum disease may open the door to some pretty serious lung diseases.

The Mouth-Lung Connection
Smoking remains the leading cause of serious respiratory diseases, such as lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The study did not conclusively prove that gum disease is another direct cause of COPD. But people in the study who were hospitalized with COPD and other types of lung disease had significantly higher rates of gingivitis and periodontal disease than the folks in a control group who had healthy lungs. It's not clear what the connection is. But we know that the bacteria from dental plaque, when inhaled into the lungs, not only can cause COPD exacerbations but also might trigger respiratory infections in healthy people.

A Double Threat
For good gum—and lung—health, brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes. Even better, brush after every meal if you can. And floss daily. The key is to keep dental plaque—that sticky, bacteria-filled film that forms on teeth—from building up and causing gingivitis and periodontal disease. Research shows that spending at least two minutes brushing each cleaning session is ideal for removing plaque.

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

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