- Virginia University
researchers identify 86% pneumonia risk among people who never visit the
- 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.
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.
‘Having healthy teeth and gums decreases the bad bacteria in the mouth that cause pneumonia (lung infection)’
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."
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.
Pathogens and Respiratory Infections
- (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 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 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.
- Role of oral bacteria in respiratory
infection - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10440642)
- Regular dental visits may help prevent pneumonia,
study shows - (https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-10/idso-rdv102516.php)