Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Oral hygiene curbs pneumonia risk in elderly

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Among nursing home residents, having a nursing aide help them maintain good oral hygiene lowers the odds of them dying from pneumonia, a study suggests.

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in elderly nursing home residents, Dr. Carol W. Bassim and colleagues point out in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. "Several studies have shown that poor oral hygiene or inadequate oral care are also associated with pneumonia," they add.

Bassim, now at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research in Bethesda, Maryland, and her associates studied the impact of enhanced oral hygiene care for residents in two wards at a Florida nursing home compared with residents in two other wards.

Initially, there was no difference in the mortality rate from pneumonia between the two groups. However, patients in the oral care group were older and more disabled than those who did not receive oral care, and once this was taken into account the risk of dying from pneumonia was more than three times higher in patients who did not receive oral care.

Pneumonia in the elderly is often triggered by aspirating saliva or food. It is likely that the risk of pneumonia "depends on the quality and the quantity of the oropharyngeal contents of a patient at the time of respiratory inoculation or introduction," Bassim and colleagues explain.

"The quantity of saliva inhaled and a predisposition to gross aspiration events may not be modified through oral care," they add, "but this study indicates that oral care may be involved in significantly reducing the harmful quality of the intra-oral environment, reducing the risk of a patient dying from pneumonia."

SOURCE: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.


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  2. Having bad oral hygiene is linked to different kinds of serious diseases, according to my research. I have been a freelance researcher for quite a while now here in Raleigh. Dentists here always advise the community to keep up with good oral hygiene to avoid diseases such as heart disease, pneumonia, and other health problems. I was caught with the idea when I heard it firsthand here at Raleigh, NC. Dentist around the block where my condo is located informed me that due to bad bacteria, the infection in the mouth worsens. If that happens, these bacteria will flow with the bloodstream that may harm our system!

    Gosh! I never thought that constantly missing brushing and flossing can lead to a horrible disease!

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