UK researchers suggest improved access to oral care in Brazil could lower COPD rates

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Researchers from the University of Birmingham believe that improving access to oral care could play a critical role in reducing rates of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) in Brazil.

In Brazil, COPD is currently the third most common cause of death. Despite dental health being linked to worse COPD outcomes, most patients are unaware of the association. Researchers based at the University of Birmingham have suggested that improving oral health standards could help to lower the number of patients experiencing severe symptoms of COPD.

Working with health professionals in Sao Paulo, researchers found that many patients who have both COPD and dental issues view losing teeth and dental decay as common ailments that are accepted by the wider population as normal. This means that they don’t take steps to prevent oral health diseases leaving them susceptible to gum disease, infections and cavities.

Lead co-author of the study, Amber Swann, an intercalating medical student at the University of Birmingham, explained that there is a “clear desire for greater integration between medical and dental services to promote preventative health.” The researchers suggest that developing educational programmes and improving access to oral care could help to prevent more cases of COPD and benefit patients who are receiving treatment for COPD.

Co-author and fellow medical student, Matthew Riley, added that dentists felt that the most significant barrier was a lack of oral hygiene and dental care while patients suggested that they were unable to access dental services. The study indicates that incorporating dental care into COPD management and increasing access to public dental services could help vulnerable patients.

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