Clean teeth reduce pneumonia risk?

Regular brushing is a good idea even without this half-baked study.

The Times of India reports,

Scientists from the Yale University School of Medicine found changes in mouth bacteria preceded the development of the inflammatory lung condition in hospital patients.

The team followed 37 subjects over a month. They found patients on ventilators who developed pneumonia had experienced a significant shift in the ‘bacterial composition’ in their mouths beforehand.

“Our findings may improve the way we prevent pneumonia in the future by maintaining the bacteria which live within our mouths,” the Daily Mail quoted lead author Dr Samit Joshi as telling ELS Global Medical News.

Although further research is required, the British Dental Foundation said the latest study is not the first to associate poor oral health with respiratory diseases.

Bacterial chest infections are thought to be caused by breathing in fine droplets from the throat and mouth into the lungs and earlier studies suggested people were more likely to die from pneumonia if they had higher numbers of deep gum pockets.

Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said the latest research backed their findings that looking after your teeth boost your overall health.

“During the winter months we’re all susceptible to colds, coughs and chesty viruses due to the drop in temperature,” said Dr Carter.

“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,” he stated.

He added that dentists recommended brushing teeth for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, cleaning in between teeth daily with interdental brushes or floss and avoiding sugary foods.

Dr Johsi”s research was presented at the Infectious Diseases Society of America annual meeting in Boston.

6 thoughts on “Clean teeth reduce pneumonia risk?”

  1. It all depends on the type of bacteria that are “causing” the pneumonia. If periodontal pathogens then one would expect that the worsened oral hygiene while on a ventilator would result in gingivitis and then periodontitis, which then causes the lung problem. The debilitated state of the patient with pneumonia would not cause periodontitis although it might be a cofactor in lessening the immune resistance of the patient.

  2. They already proved years ago that mouth care in patients on ventilators decreases the incidence of ICU pneumonia, so this actually makes sense to me.

  3. Pardon my ignorance, but is it possible that the change in bacterial composition could be a symptom rather than the cause of pneumonia?

  4. I don’t know about this study but there are others that establish possible links between periodontal disease and pneumonia. In addition, there are many studies linking periodontal pathogens to cardiovascular disease and also premature babies. The previous out of vogue theory of focal infection is being proven to be correct.

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