DentalPlans.com reports here on a study that links dental hygiene with respiratory health. The study,published in the Journal of Periodontology, linked periodontal disease with an increased risk of pneumonia and COPD.
Of 200 subjects aged 20 to 60 studied, "the individuals with respiratory diseases had markedly worse periodontal health."
The theory here is that inhaled bacteria can cause respiratory infections. The exact mechanism, however, is still unknown.
Earlier studies have already proven a link between arthritis and diabetes and poor dental care. Now Dentists can add good healthy to the public relations and advertising campaigns.
To me this study makes sense, considering bacteria that sits in the mouth and erodes the teeth can just as easily make it to the lungs and cause infections down there. Infections in the lungs can lead to both pneumonia and exacerbations of COPD.
Good dental hygiene will cleans the mouth of bad bacteria, and therefore reduce the risk of pneumonia. I wouldn't think it would prevent COPD, just the pneumonia that might develop in their already thick and trapped mucus.
We'll have to wait for further studies to learn more.