Health In Focus
  • Virginia University researchers identify 86% pneumonia risk among people who never visit the dentist.
  • Regular dental visit found to be associated with lower pneumonia risk
  • Study highlights the importance of good oral hygiene

A dental visit can do more than protect your teeth; it can prevent pneumonia, according to a study by researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University at Richmond. The bacterial load in the mouth is considerably lowered after a dental checkup, which could lower the risk for pneumonia.

Pneumonia is a common infection in the U.S where more than a million are affected every year and 50,000 die because of the infection. This infection is found commonly among people infected with AIDS or any other lung disease, making them susceptible to pneumonia.
Pneumonia Risk in Patients Who Donít Visit the Dentist Regularly

The study researchers analyzed a national database of over 26,000 people and found that
  • People who never get dental checkup were at an 86% higher risk of getting pneumonia when compared with people who had a dental checkup twice a year.
Assistant professor of internal medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, Dr. Michelle Doll who is the lead author of the study said "There is a well-documented connection between oral health and pneumonia, and dental visits are important in maintaining good oral health. We can never rid the mouth of bacteria altogether, but good oral hygiene can limit the quantities of bacteria present."

Medical Expenditure Panel Survey

The scientists used the 2013 medical expenditure panel survey which included questions on the utilization of healthcare services, inclusive of dental care, costs that were incurred and the satisfaction levels of patients.
  • (1.68 percent) 441 of 26,246 people suffered from bacterial pneumonia.
  • People who never went for dental checkup had a risk of pneumonia that was 86% more than people who visited the dentist for checkup at least twice a year.
Oral Pathogens and Respiratory Infections
  • Oral pathogens may be aspirated into the lung leading to respiratory infection.
  • Gum disease could lead to the presence of certain enzymes in the saliva that change the mucosal lining and promote adhesion of respiratory pathogens, leading to respiratory infections.
  • Certain cytokines that are found to originate from the periodontal tissues lead to changes in the respiratory epithelium that could lead to entry of pathogens.
It is very important to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent the accumulation of organisms like Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, anaerobic bacteria and Haemophilus. Dr. Doll further added, "Our study provides further evidence that oral health is linked to overall health, and suggests that it's important to incorporate dental care into routine preventive healthcare."

Oral Hygiene

Oral health is considered a mirror to general health, stressing the need to maintain healthy oral practices. Brushing teeth twice a day and flossing are essential while dental visits will prevent the colonization of harmful microbes.

References :
  1. Role of oral bacteria in respiratory infection - (
  2. Regular dental visits may help prevent pneumonia, study shows - (
Source: Medindia

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